Risk
1/24/2013
12:53 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Finds People Want More Privacy Control

Almost half of U.S. adults feel they can't control how online companies collect personal information.

The purpose of Data Privacy Day, to be observed on Monday, January 28, is to empower individuals to protect their privacy and to control their digital footprint. Five years into this particular observance, there's still much work to be done.

About 45% of 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed on behalf of Microsoft by Ipsos Public Affairs believe they have little or no control over the personal information companies gather about them while using online services.

Yet almost as many, about 40%, believe they totally or mostly understand how to protect their privacy online. Approximately the same percentage says they rely on friends, family and privacy statements as their primary sources of privacy information. About a third of respondents say they pay close attention to companies' privacy reputations when choosing online services.

[ Google is getting more requests for information from the government. Read more at Google Sees Growing Government Demand For User Data. ]

Brendon Lynch, chief privacy officer at Microsoft, said in an interview that while most of those concerned about privacy probably aren't reading privacy policies line by line, they are paying attention and companies can't afford to ignore such concerns. "It's incumbent for organizations to be good stewards of the data and to really be more transparent and to provide people with more information about how they can protect themselves," said Lynch.

Privacy has been a part of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative for over a decade. But it has become particularly important in the age of mobile social computing. As Google's services have begun to destabilize the foundations of Microsoft's desktop empire and businesses have begun to be seduced by the promise of "big data," Microsoft has been looking to privacy as a key point of differentiation.

"The way that we've been thinking about privacy increasingly is it's a feature, when you're producing software and services and devices," Lynch said. "We're viewing privacy as a way to better understand what our customers want and what they think and then deliver against that need."

To give customers more control over their online data, Microsoft has developed services like its Personal Data Dashboard and has implemented Web browsing features like Do Not Track, despite lack of industry consensus.

Some people see privacy as an all-or-nothing proposition. Lynch argues that privacy is better defined as a set of choices. He believes that privacy can coexist with services that encourage people to share information.

"There's this potential definition of privacy which is binary, which is more akin to secrecy," he said. "But it's really evolved. ...It's not so much about secrecy anymore as it is about control. So yes, people want to share information, but they want to share information [selectively]. What our research showed us is there's still a significant portion of the population that doesn't feel in control ... and they're looking to learn more about how they can be in more control about their privacy."

Privacy has never worked very well as a business. Like security, it tends to something people become interested in after it's too late. Rewind a decade and you'll find the ruins of several dot-com boom startups that failed to sell privacy as a service.

Control, on the other hand, might just sell. But it will be hard to convince people they have control when terms of service documents enforce one-sided contracts, governments can get online data on demand, and cyber criminals can bypass many security measures.

Offensive cybersecurity is a tempting prospect. It's also way too early to go there. Here's what to do instead. Also in the new, all-digital Nuclear Option issue of InformationWeek: Military agencies worldwide are figuring out the tactics and capabilities that will be critical in any future cyber war. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Tom Claburn
50%
50%
Tom Claburn,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/25/2013 | 1:51:26 PM
re: Microsoft Finds People Want More Privacy Control
Agreed. I suspect that many of those who believe they have control over their personal information are fooling themselves.
John doe
50%
50%
John doe,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/25/2013 | 3:10:42 AM
re: Microsoft Finds People Want More Privacy Control
Im surprised Microsoft found anyone with that garbage OS that is Windows 8
D. Henschen
50%
50%
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/24/2013 | 7:32:40 PM
re: Microsoft Finds People Want More Privacy Control
I'm surprised this stat on perceived lack of control isn't more like 85% rather than 45%. How many times do you find yourself unsubscribing from email sources that you never solicited. How many times do you see banners and other ads for the types of products you've recently searched?

Ten years ago your purchase habits would steer direct mail offers a few weeks or months after you made a significant purchase. Today even casual browsing can mold your Web experience within hours. That doesn't really scare me, but I certainly don't feel as if I have any control over the use of data about my online behavior.
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-7241
Published: 2014-12-19
The TSUTAYA application 5.3 and earlier for Android allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary Java methods via a crafted HTML document.

CVE-2014-7249
Published: 2014-12-19
Buffer overflow on the Allied Telesis AR440S, AR441S, AR442S, AR745, AR750S, AR750S-DP, AT-8624POE, AT-8624T/2M, AT-8648T/2SP, AT-8748XL, AT-8848, AT-9816GB, AT-9924T, AT-9924Ts, CentreCOM AR415S, CentreCOM AR450S, CentreCOM AR550S, CentreCOM AR570S, CentreCOM 8700SL, CentreCOM 8948XL, CentreCOM 992...

CVE-2014-7267
Published: 2014-12-19
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the output-page generator in the Ricksoft WBS Gantt-Chart add-on 7.8.1 and earlier for JIRA allows remote authenticated users to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-7268.

CVE-2014-7268
Published: 2014-12-19
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the data-export feature in the Ricksoft WBS Gantt-Chart add-on 7.8.1 and earlier for JIRA allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-7267.

CVE-2014-8272
Published: 2014-12-19
The IPMI 1.5 functionality in Dell iDRAC6 modular before 3.65, iDRAC6 monolithic before 1.98, and iDRAC7 before 1.57.57 does not properly select session ID values, which makes it easier for remote attackers to execute arbitrary commands via a brute-force attack.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.