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    Pew Research: Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online

    The Pew Research Center has released a new report, “Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online” (html; pdf; archive pdf), based on a survey of Internet users and finds: “Most internet users would like to be anonymous online at least occasionally, but many think it is not possible to be completely anonymous online.” Also, notably, “Some 68% of internet users believe current laws are not good enough in protecting people’s privacy online.” The report says: “People would like control over their information, saying in many cases it is very important to them that only they or the people they authorize should be given access to such things as the content of their emails, the people to whom they are sending emails, the place where they are when they are online, and the content of the files they download.”

    The survey was conducted in July and had a sample of 1,002 adults ages 18 and older. “e. For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points and for the results from 792 internet and smartphone users in the sample, the margin of error is 3.8 percentage points.” Here are some other findings from the report:

    • 86% of internet users have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints—ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email, from avoiding using their name to using virtual networks that mask their internet protocol (IP) address.
    • 55% of internet users have taken steps to avoid observation by specific people, organizations, or the government
    • 21% of internet users have had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over by someone else without permission.
    • 13% of internet users have experienced trouble in a relationship between them and a family member or a friend because of something the user posted online.
    • 12% of internet users have been stalked or harassed online.
    • 11% of internet users have had important personal information stolen such as their Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account information.
    • 6% of internet users have been the victim of an online scam and lost money.
    • 6% of internet users have had their reputation damaged because of something that happened online.
    • 4% of internet users have been led into physical danger because of something that happened online.
    • 1% of internet users have lost a job opportunity or educational opportunity because of something they posted online or someone posted about them.
    • Some 68% of internet users believe current laws are not good enough in protecting people’s privacy online and 24% believe current laws provide reasonable protections.

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