*Online Privacy Study Reveals Consumer Concerns, Inaction

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U.S. Web users express concern about privacy, but they do little to protect themselves online, according to a study released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Washington.


Of those surveyed, 84 percent of Internet users claimed to be concerned about businesses and others getting their personal information, but 54 percent have willingly provided it in order to use a Web site. Another 10 percent said they would provide personal information under the right circumstances.


More than half of Internet users said they think tracking by Web sites is a harmful invasion of privacy.


Regardless, very few Internet users surveyed are employing techniques to protect their privacy online. The largest percentage of those who took precautions was the 24 percent who give fake information at Web sites. Only 9 percent have used encryption to scramble e-mail, and 5 percent have used anonymizing software.


Additionally, 56 percent of Internet users said they did not know what an Internet cookie was. Of the 43 percent who could identify a cookie, only 10 percent had their browsers set to reject them.


Despite concerns and lack of action to avoid invasions of privacy, fewer than 3 percent of Internet users said their credit card information had been stolen online.


The study, which was released Sunday, was based on responses from 2,117 American adults surveyed via random telephone polling about online privacy between May 19 and June 21. Of those surveyed, 1,017 were Internet users.
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