Back in 1999, Scott McNealy of Sun famously told a group of reporters and analysts "You have zero privacy. Get over it."
At the same time Josh Harris launched his human fishbowl experiment "We Live in Public," which eerily anticipated today's era of Twitter and Facebook. The story has recently been made into a movie I'm hoping to see.
When Jeff Patterson and I started Visible Path (now Hoovers Connect) in 2003, privacy concerns often dominated in personal and professional circles, and we built more and more features in the software to safeguard privacy.
Today, as folks broadcast more and more of their lives publicly, I've wondered if attitudes and concerns about privacy had markedly shifted. To check, I ran a quick market survey and was surprised by some of the results:
People are still very concerned about privacy
Across the board - gender, marital status, geographic location, and occupation, people were very concerned about privacy. The bullets below refer to the percentage of folks that ranked themselves as "very concerned" about a topic, the highest level on a 5 point scale:
- 34.9% of all parents were “very concerned” (top box) about “inappropriate info about my child appearing online”
- 31.7% of all respondents were “very concerned” about “Inappropriate info about me appearing online”
- 42.6% of all respondents were “very concerned” about “My personal information being collected and sold”
- 33.7% of all respondents were “very concerned” about “Undesirable info about me appearing in search results”
Younger people are as concerned as older people
prevailing wisdom seems to be that younger generations are not only more comfortable with new technologies, but less concerned about privacy, but this wasn't supported by the data. Although concern did increase modestly in older demographics, concern in the 17-24 year old group was still high: