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Survey: Few Americans Willing to Pay for Privacy

January 16, 2019

Only one in four Americans want online services such as Facebook and Google to collect less of their data if it means they would have to start paying a monthly subscription fee, according to a new survey from the Center for Data Innovation.

Few surveys of Internet users’ attitudes toward online privacy ask about such tradeoffs, so the Center probed Americans’ reactions to a series of likely consequences of reducing online data collection. The survey found that when potential tradeoffs were not part of the question approximately 80 percent of Americans agreed that they would like online services such as Facebook and Google to collect less of their data. But that support eroded when respondents considered these tradeoffs. For example, initial agreement dropped by 6 percentage points when respondents were asked whether they would like online services to collect less data even if it means seeing ads that are less useful. Support dropped by 27 percentage points when respondents considered whether they would like less data collection even if it means seeing more ads than before. And it dropped by 26 percentage points when respondents were asked whether they would like less data collection even if it means losing access to some features they use now. The largest drop in support (53 percentage points) came when respondents were asked whether they would like online services to collect less of their data even if it means paying a monthly subscription fee. Only 27 percent of respondents agreed with reducing data collection in that circumstance.

By Daniel Castro and Michael McLaughlin

Originally published by Center for Data Innovation

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