Ethics In Tech

By Brett Wilkins

If you ask, most Americans will tell you that online privacy is important to them. However, the results of a newly-released survey reveal that most people say they wouldn’t pay for it.

Only one in four Americans would pay online services like Facebook or Google to collect less of their personal data if they had to pay a monthly subscription fee, according to a new Center for Data Innovation survey. This, despite the fact that fully 80 percent of survey respondents said they wanted those companies to collect less of their data.

The survey also explored how willing people are to trade away more online privacy for various benefits. It found that while only 11 percent of respondents wanted companies to collect more of their data with no additional benefits, 16 percent said they would give up more data if targeted advertisements were more useful and over 17 percent would do so in exchange for more free apps and features.

“Limiting personal data collection would require tradeoffs,” said Center for Data Innovation director Daniel Castro. “Overly restrictive privacy legislation would likely increase compliance costs and reduce companies’ revenues, which could force ad-supported business models to start charging for subscriptions and paid services to raise their prices.”

Castro added that the survey “makes clear that consumers do not want to pay that price for privacy, so policymakers should tread carefully to avoid unintended consequences that leave consumers worse off.”

The Center for Data Innovation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution affiliated with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a Washington, DC-based think tank funded by government agencies, technology companies and lobby groups, philanthropic organizations and others.

ITIF has consistently argued against more robust online privacy regulations and has been openly inimical toward groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that champion online privacy.

(Image credit: DJANDYW.COM AKA NOBODY/Flickr Creative Commons)


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