10/26 – Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused, and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information

In Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused, and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information, Auxier et. al show how American citizens feel about their data being tracked and stored on a daily basis. Specifically, there was an emphasis on how many feel there is a lack of understanding and autonomy with data collection and laws. 

Auxier et. al argue that Americans feel that they do not have control over their personal data and how it is collected on the Internet, which raises concerns about privacy and security. To come to their conclusions, the authors looked at results and trends from the American Trends Panel conducted by Pew Research Center. The key takeaways from the findings were: prevalence of tracking, not feeling in control of personal data, risks of data collection not outweighing the benefits, concerns about how data is used (with it sometimes being okay to collect), lack of understanding, and age/race differences in relation to privacy issues. 

The authors cited some specific statistics that elucidated the opinions and perspectives of the respondents. First, they noted that roughly six-in-ten Americans feel that they cannot go through their day without having some sort of data or information collected about them from companies and/or the government. Also, they stated that, “ 72% of Americans report feeling that all, almost all or most of what they do online or while using their cellphone is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies.” Moreover, they noted that roughly six-in-ten Americans do not understand laws and regulations surrounding privacy protection and that eight-in-ten Americans have little to no control over what data is being collected about them. Finally, the authors said how age and race can factor into how Americans feel about their privacy and data collection. Specifically, they found that Black Americans are more likely to feel like the government is tracking what they are doing on their phones and online. It was interesting to see social demographics and how that affects people’s perceptions on this topic. 

The arguments presented in this article were interesting and valid. Pew Research Center is a very reputable source, so the findings presented in this article were trustworthy. Furthermore, the authors presented multiple statistics from different vantage points, such as from those who actually do read privacy policies. This made the argument stronger. My opinions on this topic mostly align with the opinions of the respondents since I feel like my data is being collected every time I use my phone and the Internet. Personally, I do not care so much that my browsing habits are being collected and analyzed, but I do care that my personal data and information is likely being collected without my knowledge.

3 thoughts on “10/26 – Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused, and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information

  1. Hi Megan, I read this article as well and I agree with your take on it. It is a part of life that our data is being collected, and I agree with you that I don’t really care that much about it anymore. However, perhaps I should since some information is private. Personal information like social security number and credit card numbers would be devastating if it was released.

  2. My article talks about the same concerns people may have about the privacy problem, and I like the results and statistics from Pew Research Center. It is interesting to see the results and people’s attitude towards that, and I didn’t realize that the age and race would affect people’s perceptions on this topic. Looking forward to hearing more in class!

  3. These statistics are helpful in understanding the American public’s feelings on privacy. I am in the majority, as I think my information is collected as I browse. I am curious as to when this article was published, because I feel like concerns about privacy online have grown significantly in recent years. I also would like to know about the sources of these beliefs? Where do Americans get their information on privacy? Have recent documentaries (ex – The Social Dilemma) influenced public perception?

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