Consumers Really Do Care About Privacy

CFA Offers New Media Resource about Consumers’ Privacy Concerns

Washington, D.C. — Does the fact that consumers are increasingly using technologies that enable personal information about them to be collected, analyzed and used for purposes that they never affirmatively agreed to mean that they are unconcerned about their privacy? “It’s a myth that consumers don’t care about their privacy anymore,” said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at the Consumer Federation of America.  “Studies show that consumers are very concerned about the lack of control they have over their personal information, and they should be, because as numerous articles and reports have revealed, their data is being tracked and used in ways that they might not expect or desire.”

For instance, in comments to the Department of Commerce earlier this year on the Internet of Things, one of the references that the Consumer Federation of America cited was a January 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, Privacy and Information Sharing, which showed that while 55 percent of respondents said that it would be acceptable for an employer to install surveillance cameras with facial recognition technology after a series of thefts, 55 percent said it would be unacceptable for a smart thermostat to monitor their movements around their home in exchange for savings on their energy bill.

“Consumers should not have to make a choice between energy efficiency and privacy, or worry about their children enjoying Pokémon GO because their personal information is being collected and shared for purposes that have nothing to do with playing the game,” said Ms. Grant. CFA’s new “Resources for Consumer Concerns about Privacy” provides links to selected surveys, studies and news articles about privacy in nine specific areas: advertising, attitudes towards privacy, big data, data brokers, data security, facial recognition, health care, the Internet of Things, and personalized pricing and discrimination. “Because of the increasing concerns about privacy issues, we are making it available for other advocates, policy makers and the media on our website,” explained Ms. Grant.

This resource, which is available here, is intended as a sampling of information about consumers’ privacy concerns, not a compendium of all relevant surveys, studies and articles on every privacy issue. “We welcome suggestions for additions to the list and will update it on an ongoing basis,” said Ms. Grant. Caroline Zitin, a law student at Georgetown University, helped to develop the resource under a program sponsored by the Georgetown University Law Center Equal Justice Foundation.

Contact: Susan Grant, 202-939-1003

The Consumer Federation of America is a national organization of more than 250 nonprofit consumer groups that was founded in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.