Surveillance: US Web users fear for online privacy

Many consumers don't trust their personal information to the Net -- even if they're experienced users.

Over half of the most experienced Web users in the US have worries about online privacy, according to a Forrester study of 10,000 households. The number of years that consumers had been using the Internet had little effect on easing privacy concerns, with the percentage of users who were extremely or very concerned about privacy dropping only 23 percent after four years online.

The study found that although consumers were perfectly happy to pay for an unlisted phone number, only 12 percent believed that they should have to pay for online privacy. Over half the people surveyed said that they were ready to call on the government to regulate online privacy.

Forrester also found that such privacy fears were holding back the take up of e-commerce. Forty-eight percent of users who said that they were "very concerned" about privacy would not make online purchases.

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