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Pew Survey: Online Privacy Laws Are Insufficient

More than eight out of 10 people have taken
steps to avoid "surveillance" by others when using the Internet, but
one in five have had their e-mail or social media account "hijacked"
and one in 10 have had personal information stolen.

That is according to
the latest Pew Research study, which found that a majority or respondents say
privacy protection laws are not sufficient to protect them online.

Half of the
respondents said they are worried about the amount of personal information about
them online, up from a third in a 2009 study.

A majority (68%)
said that current laws are not providing "reasonable" protection of
privacy online.

The Obama
administration is in the midst of an effort to create voluntary online privacy
protection codes of conduct, but that effort has been criticized by both
industry and privacy advocates. It also continues to back legislation to put
teeth in those codes.

The online ad
industry has adopted an icon-based do not track regime, but participation is voluntary.

The survey, of 792
Internet users, found that:

  • 86% have taken steps
    online to make it harder to trace their digital tracks, from clearing cookies
    to encrypting email.
  • 55% have "taken
    steps to avoid observation by specific people, organizations, or the
  • 21% have had email
    or a social networking account compromised.
  • 12% have been
    stalked or harassed.
  • 11% have had their
    Social Security number, credit card, or bank account information stolen.
  • 6% have been the
    victim of an online scam.
  • 6% have had their
    reputation damaged.
  • 4% have been put in
    physical danger.

The survey,
underwritten by Carnegie Mellon, was based on results of telephone poll
conducted by Princeton Survey Research July 11-14aomng adults 18-plus. It has a
margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.