Google Research

Sensitivity of Personal Data Items in Different Online Contexts

it - Information Technology Journal Special Edition Usable Privacy and Security (2016)

Abstract

We present the results of a survey study (n=1,200) investigating online users’ privacy sensitivity towards exposing specific data items to service providers of the three most prominent online services in the UK: online retail, social networking and information search. The study, representative of the online population of the UK, presents proof for the context-dependence of privacy sensitivity and provides concrete quantitative results for specific data items (like full name or mobile phone number). One of the key results is that data that is considered essential in order for a service to work is seldomly rated as sensitive. We could also show that passively collected data is in general more sensitive than concrete data provided by the users. However, specific conditions like control and transparency sensitivity of data in a specific context.

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