Study Reveals Counter Intuitive Privacy Behavior

John Timmer at Ars discusses the findings in study to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research. It didn’t get to the bottom of why users give up personal data when they clearly should know better. Rather it just revealed how ineffective environmental cues about privacy risks are and that they might even have the opposite of the desired effect.

I can’t help but think of my friend and privacy lawyer, Carey Lening, who routinely rolls her eyes when I share bits like these revealing how easily ordinary folks violate their own privacy. She always uses the example of how quickly people will give up their info for even the most modest reward, like a tchotchke or t-shirt. To be fair, this study is a little more confounding than that.

I am increasingly convinced by her arguments that we need user education before we wade too deeply into crafting new regulations. These findings however suggest that education may not be enough. Or that there may be greater challenges inherent in crafting an effective curriculum than it seems at first blush.

Users are still idiots, cough up personal data despite warnings, Ars Technica

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