Data Privacy Day 2013: Microsoft releases privacy trends study and video series

For Data Privacy Day, Microsoft surveyed U.S. adults about privacy trends. About half of the people feel no or little control over the collection and tracking of their personal info. Sadly, less than half of all adults 'mostly' or 'totally understand' how to protect themselves online.

We are fast approaching Data Privacy Day (Jan. 28) 2013, when the USA, Canada and 27 countries of the European Union will "raise awareness of and generate discussion about data privacy rights and practices."

To celebrate Data Privacy Day 2013, Microsoft commissioned a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults "to better understand people's online privacy perceptions and expectations." The research study showed that privacy is becoming more important to people. They want and need more control of their personal information. Sadly, less than half of all adults ‘mostly’ or ‘totally understand’ how to protect themselves online.

Below is the result when asked how much control people feel they have over personal information shared online.

Control over personal information, Microsoft privacy survey

 85% of people surveyed said they have taken action to protect their privacy. The most common actions are seen in the graph below.

Data Privacy Day 2013, Microsoft survey found 85 percent of people take action to control their privacy

Brendon Lynch, Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer, highlighted the key findings of this research:

Forty-five percent said they feel they have little or no control over the personal information companies gather about them while they are browsing the Web or using online services, such as photo-sharing, travel or gaming.

Four in 10 said they feel they totally or mostly understand how to protect their online privacy.

An equal number of people (39 percent) said they are turning to friends and family, as well as company privacy statements, as their top source for privacy information.

A third of those surveyed (32 percent) said they are paying attention to companies' privacy reputations, track records and policies when choosing which websites to visit or services to use.

Another interesting tidbit regarding "top sources for privacy information" found that about 45% of women seek privacy answers from friends and family first, compared to 32% of men. "When it comes to who they trust, friends and family lead (33%) followed by independent privacy or consumer organizations (25%) and company privacy policies (20%). Men are just as likely to trust independent privacy or consumer organizations as friends and family (29% and 29%, respectively)."

Lynch said, "As online activities have become a valuable part of daily life, privacy is incredibly important. At Microsoft, we strive to help our customers manage their personal information online by providing easy-to-understand privacy policies, settings and guidance."

Once upon a time, my very first post here, I asked Microsoft, where is your privacy dashboard? Since then, Microsoft has come out with a privacy dashboard that it calls The Personal Data Dashboard which gives users control and choices about how Microsoft uses their data. In fact, Microsoft has launched a new Privacy in Action video series which includes "The Data Privacy Dashboard."

Other videos in the Microsoft privacy series include Privacy By Design: Putting People First and Privacy in Action: Windows Phone 8

You can download a presentation [PPT] of the survey's findings or read the executive summary [PDF], read Brendon Lynch's post or watch the privacy videos Privacy in Action, Microsoft Personal Data Dashboard, Windows Phone 8. Additional privacy information provided by Microsoft can be found at: Privacy in Bing, Privacy in Internet Explorer 10, Privacy on Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, Personal Data Dashboard and Privacy in Windows Phone 8.

Every year for Data Privacy Day, Microsoft releases data from a new privacy survey. 2011 was about usage and perception of location-based services; 2012 was about the negative consequences of oversharing in social media.

Images courtesy of Microsoft Data Privacy Day Privacy Survey 2013.

Like this? Here's more posts:

Follow me on Twitter @PrivacyFanatic

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 hot cybersecurity trends (and 2 going cold)