Today the United States, the European Union and Canada are celebrating Data Privacy Day, which is dedicated to educating people about online privacy protections. To commemorate the day, Microsoft commissioned focus group research examining consumer perceptions of online privacy issues. The findings of these focus groups led us to think about how we can build on our efforts to help consumers protect their personal information. The focus groups formed the basis of a 5 minute documentary, which can be viewed here:
Watch our video, "My Privacy: Safely Navigating Life Online" below:
Check out the rest of this site and learn more about Microsoft’s Data Privacy Day event.
The research suggested that while many consumers of all age levels are very concerned about protecting online privacy, they typically have only a surface understanding of the online threats they face. While many take basic precautionary measures such as using spam filters, deleting cookies and installing antivirus software, they may not always understand the privacy decisions they make or the threats they encounter on a daily basis. Many participants felt once their information was online, there was little they could do to protect or control that information and were resigned to accepting it as a risk.
Most consumers have come to understand and accept the risks and rewards of Internet usage and are willing to take personal responsibility for the protection of their online privacy. However, many aren't aware of the privacy controls available to them, such as the ability to opt-out of behaviorally targeted advertising or many of the new tools being built into new version of internet browsers.
This finding are leading us to consider whether industry, government and nongovernmental organizations are doing enough to educate consumers about protecting their personal information online. Members of industry should also evaluate whether we place too much responsibility on consumers and put greater emphasis on alleviating the burdens related to making informed privacy decisions. The Internet is evolving at a breakneck pace, and the privacy practices that worked for people yesterday may not apply tomorrow.
We strongly believe improving consumer privacy and ensuring online safety requires continued efforts from consumers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), government and members of industry. Microsoft has long been invested in helping people protect the personal information they share online. But we must work with our partners to build on existing efforts to help consumers navigate the increasingly complex data flows and privacy challenges they face online.
We will continue to address the specific concerns of consumers through developing privacy enhancing technologies and tools, consumer education and partnerships and policies and practices. Data Privacy Day events, including our panel of industry experts, privacy advocates and public policy officials, are part of this effort to facilitate dialogue about furthering consumer privacy efforts. How we are tackling some of the issues covered in the documentary provide good examples of how we need to move forward on these issues.
-- Peter Cullen, Microsoft Chief Privacy Strategist