Who Owns Personal Information?
Anatomy of a Privacy Case
Public Attitudes and Interesting Facts
1996 DIRECT Poll
A survey conducted in spring 96 for a prominent direct marketing magazine reveals:
Source: Direct, June 1996 issue.
- 83% of survey participants said there should be a law requiring an opt-in procedure to be included on mailing lists.
- 78% are favorable of such law even if if it means that they would not get new mailings.
- 58% want to outlaw all together the collection of social security data. Only 4% think such collection is OK, even if only for marketing purposes.
- 58% said they don't look at their direct mail before throwing it away.
- 56% think direct marketers are generally less honest than other businesses
A copy of the full report can be ordered from DIRECT Survey,
Cowles Business Media, 470 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016.
4/96 Georgia Tech University Fifth WWW poll
The on-line survey asked to rate the level of agreement with various statements from Agree Strongly (5) to Disagree Strongly (1).
Survey finds online users strongly support anonymous net use:
Most users recognize that Web site designers have a legitimate need to:
- "I value being able to visit sites on the Internet in an anonymous manner." (4.6/5.0 - most agreed statement)
- "A user ought to have complete control over which sites get what demographic information." (4.4/5.0)
But they strongly oppose commercial sale of personal information:
- collect demographic information in order to better design their Web sites.(3.8/5.0)
- market their sites to advertisers (3.8/5.0).
- advertising-supported content (4.0/5.0).
- "content providers have the right to resell information about its users to other companies."(1.7/5.0)
Source: The fifth GVU WWW survey . The numbers taken from the data privacy section.
1991 Time CNN Poll
The most comprehensive poll on public attitudes toward the sale of marketing data was undertaken in 1991 by Time/CNN.
Source: "Are You Concerned?" Time Magazine, November 11, 1995.
- 93% of Americans believe that "companies that sell information to others should be required by law to ask permission from individuals before making the information available."
- 88% believe that companies "should be required by law to make the information available to inviduals so that possible inaccuracies may be corrected."
- 90% believe that "companies that collect and sell personal information should be prohibited by law from selling information about household income."
- 86% believe that companies "should be prohibited by law from selling information about bill-paying history."
- And 68& believe that companies "should be prohibited by law from selling information about product purchases."
Lou Harris Privacy Polls
For three decades the Lou Harris organizations has been polling public attitudes toward privacy.
- In 1994 84% of Americans said they were concerned about privacy, 51% were very concerned, an all-time high.
- In 1991 nearly 80% of Americans said they regard privacy as a fundamental right.
- In 1991 more than 70% of Americans believed that they had lost control over personal information.
- In 1991 58% of Americans believed that their credit reports were not adequately protected by law.
Other Interesting Items
- The United States produces more junk mail per capita than any other country in the world (Andrew Shapiro, "We're Number One!" Vintage Press 1992)
- In 1991 consumer opposition to Marketplace, a series of CD-ROMS containing "enhanced" credit record, data led Lotus and Equifax to drop the product. (Langdon Winner, "Victory for Computer Populism," Technology Review, September 1991.)
- In 1995 consumer protest led the Telemarketry company to drop its plans to sell personal data gathered from the Internet -- including newsgroup posts, web site visits, and chat room comments.
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