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RealTime IT News

Privacy Replaces Censorship as #1 Concern of Users

In a shift from the past 12 months, Internet users responding to Georgia Tech's Graphic, Visualization, & Usability Center's (GVU) 8th WWW User Survey, reported that privacy is the most important issue facing the Internet, with censorship holding second place.

About 30.5 percent of respondents said that privacy was "the single most critical issue facing the Internet." When broken down by gender, women as a group were much more emphatic; almost 38 percent ranked privacy as the number one concern, while only 26 percent of men did so.

Just over 24 percent of users overall ranked censorship as the most critical issue, and again men and women were divided; 27.5 percent of men felt the censorship issue was most important, but less than 19 percent of women agreed.

The survey results note that younger people are more concerned about censorship than are older respondents, and that more experienced users are less concerned about privacy than censorship.

It is not unexpected that women are more concerned about privacy than men. Women far outnumber men when requesting an unlisted telephone number, for example. But privacy as an issue is receiving more attention by the media, and the defeat of the Communications Decency Act has undoubtedly put some censorship fears to rest, at least for the time being.

Unfortunately, the agent of the privacy threat was not addressed by the study; we do not know if people are concerned with government intrusions, corporate data collecting, the use of cookies on Web sites, or other users gaining access to private information.