The New York Times reports on a new survey concerning online privacy and marketers’ behavioral targeting of Web site visitors. (The Federal Trade Commission recently released voluntary guidelines on behavioral targeting by advertisers.)
More than 90 percent of respondents called online privacy a “really” or “somewhat” important issue, according to the survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted by TRUSTe, an organization that monitors the privacy practices of Web sites of companies like I.B.M., Yahoo and WebMD for a fee.
When asked if they were comfortable with behavioral targeting — when advertisers use a person’s browsing history or search history to decide which ad to show them — only 28 percent said they were. More than half said they were not. And more than 75 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “The Internet is not well regulated, and naïve users can easily be taken advantage of.” […]
For instance, only 15 percent of respondents read Web site privacy statements most of the time. Fewer than half frequently checked whether sites even had privacy statements, the survey said.
Respondents used various tactics to be more anonymous online. Forty-one percent used a Web browser that deleted cookies and the history of the sites they had visited. About the same number used software to use the Internet anonymously.