Privacy and Information Sharing

Many Americans say they might provide personal information, depending on the deal being offered and how much risk they face. A new Pew Research Center study based on a survey of 461 U.S. adults and nine online focus groups of 80 people finds that there are a variety of circumstances under which many Americans would share personal information or permit surveillance in return for getting something of perceived value. In this study, respondents were presented with six hypothetical scenarios below, each of which involved sharing some level of personal data in exchange for using a product or service:

  • Workplace security & tracking
  • Health information, convenience and security
  • Cosumer royalty cards and profiling
  • Auto Insurance Discounts and Monitoring
  • Personal Details and Advertisement
  • Home activities, Comforts and Data Capture

    They were then asked whether the bargain they were offered in return for sharing that information was acceptable, not acceptable, or if “it depends” on the context of the choice. Upon making their selection, they were then asked to describe in their own words what factors contributed to making their selection.

    Many Americans are in an “it depends” frame of mind when they think about disclosing personal information or keeping it private when considering different scenarios.
    For instance a majority of Americans think it would be acceptable (by a 54% to 24% margin) for employers to install monitoring cameras following a series of workplace thefts. Nearly half (47%) say the basic bargain offered by retail loyalty cards – namely, that stores track their purchases in exchange for occasional discounts – is acceptable to them, even as a third (32%) call it unacceptable. On the other hand, when presented with a scenario in which they might save money on their energy bill by installing a “smart thermostat” that would monitor their movements around the home, most adults consider this an unacceptable tradeoff (by a 55% to 27% margin).

    Read more from the source by PewResearch Center, published on Jan 14, 2016.