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Can You Pass This Privacy Quiz?

Most Californians couldn't, according to newly released research

So you think you know something about data privacy? A lot of Californians did, too -- until some law school experts tested them.

In a research paper released yesterday, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law found that the majority of people they surveyed did not know how their personal data might be used in everyday situations. How well do you know your privacy rights? Take this nine-question, true/false quiz and find out.

  • 1. When I subscribe to a newspaper or magazine, the publisher is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. A newspaper or magazine is free to sell subscription lists without subscriber consent. Most people (50.9 percent) got this one right. Forty-six percent said true, and 2.5 percent didn't know.

  • 2. When I order a pizza to be delivered to my home, the pizza company is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. Pizza companies have become a hub for collecting personal information, and the data is sometimes used by private investigators and governments to track individuals. Only 39.5 percent of respondents knew about this.

  • 3. When I make a donation to charity, the charity is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. Many organizations that solicit charitable donations sell lists of members and donors. Most people (43.6 percent) thought that their data was protected. Forty-two percent were aware that charities sell such lists, and 13.9 percent weren't sure.

  • 4. When I enter a sweepstakes contest, the sweepstakes company is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. The majority of respondents (54.7 percent) know that sweepstakes operators can result in the sale of personal information without consent. Forty-two percent said true, and 3.1 percent didn't know.

  • 5. When I send in a product warranty card, the product manufacturer is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. You don't have to fill out this card to be protected by the warranty -- a receipt will do -- and many companies collect a wide range of personal information from warranty cards and then sell it for direct marketing purposes. Most people (50.3 percent) don't know about this practice. Thirty-nine percent said false, and 2.5 percent didn't know.

  • 6. When I give my phone number to a store cashier, the store is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. Many stores still ask for a phone number when they complete a purchase, when in fact it usually isn't required. Stores can resell this information, and it also is a loophole in the "Do Not Call" list, because a business can call customers with whom it has a "relationship." Most people (56.9 percent) do not know about this. Thirty-nine percent of respondents correctly answered false, and 4.2 percent didn't know.

  • 7. When I complete a form for a rebate on a product, the product manufacturer is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. Like product warranties, these forms often collect irrelevant data that can be sold to third parties. Most people (50.8 percent) believed their personal information would not be used without their consent. Forty-six percent said false, and 12.1 percent didn't know.

  • 8. When I order something from a catalog, the catalog company is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    False. Catalog companies have long sold personal information and data about purchases that customers have made. Fewer people (47.9 percent) knew about this than those that didn't (48.5 percent). Four percent didn't know.

  • 9. When I purchase groceries using a loyalty or club card, the grocery store is prohibited from selling my address and phone number to other companies, unless I give them explicit permission.

    This one is true, at least in California. California law limits the collection of some information and sale of data collected through club programs. Most people (49.8 percent) got this one right. Forty-three percent said true, and 7.6 percent didn't know.

    How did you do? The Berkeley researchers said those who shop online frequently did better than those who do only about half of the time. The research also points out the need for greater education on privacy practices and user rights, the researchers noted.

    Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

    Tim Wilson is Editor in Chief and co-founder of Dark Reading.com, UBM Tech's online community for information security professionals. He is responsible for managing the site, assigning and editing content, and writing breaking news stories. Wilson has been recognized as one ... View Full Bio

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