Information Privacy: How Much Privacy Protection Does the Public Want on the Web?
Privacy advocate groups attempt to protect personal electronic information while they argue that the right to privacy is threatened in the information age. Their critics maintain that the current mobile society necessitates access to database information about consumers who want to convenience of receiving services without verifying their trustworthiness at each transaction. This research employs Q methodology to examine why and how much privacy the public may want. The respondents were 39 college students who sorted a 40-statement Q sample. Results reveal 4 distinct viewpoints toward privacy protection on the web: "Privacy fundamentalists" want to restrict companies at the information gathering stage, even in cases where the information is required by law, and then exercise control over the use of personal information after it has been given voluntarily. “Data-use restrictionists" seek choices and options restricting how data about them will be used. "Self-regulation advocates" do not believe that companies are manipulative of consumers and want stricter policies about individual privacy enforced through self-regulation. “Company sympathizers” believe that a balance should be struck between the right to privacy and other public objectives and the needs of companies to gather information so they can better serve consumers while attracting advertisers by providing segmented demographics about their website visitors.