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TRUSTe-Internet-Users-Growing-Privacy-Concerns-Sept2013TRUSTe has released its third US “Consumer Data Privacy Study – Advertising Edition,” indicating rising privacy concerns among online adults. 9 in 10 consider the issue to be really (55%) or somewhat (36%) important and 64% are more concerned than a year ago. Coming on the heels of the DAA’s withdrawal from the W3C Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG), TRUSTe’s survey also finds that 52% of respondents do not like being tracked by advertisers in order to provide more targeted advertising. While many (41%) are neutral on the topic, few (8%) actively like it. (By comparison, an earlier survey from TRUSTe found 69% of smartphone users saying they do not like being tracked. And on a related note, recent survey results from uSamp indicate that smartphone users are more trusting of the US government with their personal information than they are of Google, Facebook and Twitter.)

The DAA exited the TPWG (acronym alert!) to focus on its own resources. So how do consumers feel about the DAA’s AdChoices program? Awareness of the icon has steadily grown, according to the latest TRUSTe report, from 5% in 2011 to 21% this year. Moreover, 40% of respondents feel more positive about the concept of online behavioral advertising (OBA) when presented with the icon, and 44% are more positive about the individual advertiser when they see the icon on a banner ad.

Interestingly, online adults’ aided awareness of OBA appears to have dropped slightly, from 83% last year to 80% in this latest survey. Even so, the proportion of respondents who believe that personally identifiable information (PII) is attached to tracking activity has grown from 53 to 57%. These respondents are far more likely to feel that online privacy is a “really important issue” than those who don’t believe it is attached (59% vs. 37%).

This year, 36% of respondents indicated that they’re comfortable with advertisers using their web browsing history to show relevant ads as long as it is not tied to any other personally identifiable information. That figure marks a substantial increase from 29% last year.

Other Findings:

  • 68% of TRUSTe survey respondents refuse to allow companies to share their information with 3rd parties often or most of the time, down from 76% last year.
  • 52% manage their privacy choices by opting out of OBA with that level of frequency, up slightly from 50% last year.
  • 35% have stopped doing business with a company or have stopped using the company’s website due to privacy concerns.
  • More internet users this year are taking steps to protect their privacy, such as by manually deleting cookies, automatically deleting them, or using browsing privacy add-ons and features for ad-blocking or anti-tracking.
  • Internet users are most likely to hold themselves responsible for their privacy protection. However, they seem to be recognizing an increasing role in the advertising ecosystem for independent organizations.

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