Pew: Most Internet Users Have Hidden Our Tracks

Is online privacy possible?

Recently released, a new study from Pew Internet entitled Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online shows that while a majority of respondents would like to remain anonymous online, most of us recognize that such anonymity is increasingly impossible.

A few of the study’s key findings:

  • 86% of internet users have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints—ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email.
  • 55% of internet users have taken steps to avoid observation by specific people, organizations, or the government.

The study also cites specific invasions or infractions of privacy suffered by respondents, in an age when “identity theft” is an ever increasing concern.

A question for you: Do you feel you are able to interact privately on the Internet? Is privacy something you seek or something you assume you’ve given up when you interact online?

Read the full survey

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  • moseynon

    “…ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email”


    Normally, Pew has a solid reputation, but that statement covers a lot of ground in terms of what security precautions we take on the internet. I suspect that very few people actively encrypt their email, but those who do probably take effective security precautions in general. At the other extreme, simply clearing the cookies from your browser accomplishes little, since there are web beacons and so-called “super-cookies” which unaffected by a simple browser cleanse.

    There is no privacy on the internet, there never has been. The question is how much we reveal about ourselves and how difficult we make it for outsiders to learn it. Marketing companies are in the business of collecting as much personal information about you as possible. They are continuously devising new means to track us, even as we adopt new ways to evade them. Its an arms race, much like anti-virus software faces as new forms of malware are continuously devised or improved upon.

    And then there is Facebook. Anyone who posts there has pretty much given up on internet privacy, since everything you do or say or share goes into Facebook’s database on you. And so does anything your friends do, if it can be related to you in any manner.

    • lisahendey

      Thanks for commenting Dale. Out of curiosity, are you on Facebook?

      • moseynon

        I have been trying to resist family pressure to re-join. It isn’t easy. :-/