Internet users wary of backdoor snooping

March 19th, 2012 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook Sydney, March 19 (IANS) Internet users are uneasy about websites collecting personal information on behalf of advertisers and how they might commercialise it, according to a survey.

Mark Andrejevic from University Queensland’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, conducted a phone survey of the attitude of more than 1,100 people toward backdoor snooping by advertisers.

More than 90 percent of the respondents supported regulations that would allow them to control the use of their personal information online, said a university statement.

They would like companies to be legally bound to notify people at the time when they are collecting personal information; to provide users with the ability to “opt out” of having their information collected; and to allow users to request their personal information be deleted.

Andrejevic said companies like Facebook and Google had recently prompted privacy concerns about the ways in which they collect and use personal information.

Google has announced it will combine user information collected from across the many different services it operates, including its search engine, email service, and popular video site, YouTube.

Major credit card companies have recently announced plans to use customers’ purchasing data to target online advertisements.

“In the online world, users are increasingly being asked to consent to the collection of detailed, personal information in exchange for access to online services,” said Andrejevic, who is the chief investigator of the Personal Information Project.

“But most of us have very little idea about what information is being collected and how it’s being used so we cannot provide informed consent,” added Andrejevic.

“Companies know more and more about us, but we know very little about what they’re doing with that information,” he said.

“The more they collect, the less we know. There’s a real imbalance in the way the digital economy works,” Andrejevic said.

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