Monday, September 3, 2007

Is Privacy Worthless?

Wired has an interesting article what value people put on privacy. The answer is unsurprising, if a bit depressing for people who do care about privacy: people always value even small amounts of money (e.g., a quarter) over the privacy of their personal information, even if that information is highly sensitive (e.g., number of sex partners). However, while the finding that consumers place very little value on privacy was depressing, one of the reasons given for that low value - a lack of understanding of the concrete risks to decreased privacy - was actually cause for hope. For example, consumers are generally highly concerned about identity theft (see, e.g., this article). Using that concern, it would seem that if privacy advocates can connect lack of privacy (i.e., everything you do being monitored and stored) with increased risk of identity theft (i.e., stored information about you being stolen and used for fraud) then they might be able to make a compelling case that consumers place too low a value on the privacy of their information.

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