A survey commissioned by American academics and privacy advocates reveals that Americans are generally suspicious of efforts to track their behaviour online and to target advertising based on this tracking.
While you might expect older Americans to be suspicious of efforts to track their behaviour on individual websites, and even more so if tracking their behaviour on multiple sites, there seems to be opposition from younger Americans as well. 55% of 18 to 24 year-olds do not want to be subject to tailored advertising – and this number increases significantly if the advertiser is compiling data from a number of sources in order to target.
Interestingly, promises to anonymize the data do not seem to win many supporters:
“Even when they are told that the act of following them on websites will take place anonymously, Americans’ aversion to it remains: 68% “definitely” would not allow it, and 19% would “probably” not allow it.”
The June/July survey was conducted by telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,000 adult internet users living in the continental United States, using both land line and cellular service.
The report by Joseph Turow, Jennifer King, Chris Hoofnagle, Amy Bleakley and Michael Hennessy is available on the Social Sciences Research Network.