Survey: Online Privacy, Security Worry Net Users

Internet use is up, but enthusiasm for electronic commerce continues to be hampered by consumer worries about the privacy and security of online transactions, according to a report issued by the University of California at Los Angeles Nov. 28.

The UCLA Internet Project, a follow-up to a similar report issued last year, found that 72 percent of Americans have some type of online access, up from 67 percent in 2000. However, only 43 percent of those who purchased products and services online said they will make "many more purchases online," down from 55 percent in 2000. Many cited fears of using credit cards online.

As in the 2000 report, privacy continues to be the greatest concern of Internet users. More than 56 percent of Internet users and 75 percent of non-Internet users agreed to the statement that "people who go online put their privacy at risk."

Ten percent of people who no longer use the Internet cited privacy concerns as a reason why they stopped.

"How can Internet providers, users and non-users, dispel concerns about online privacy?" said Jeff Cole, director of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy. "The answer to that question is not clear, nor is it yet on the horizon."

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the 2001 UCLA Internet Report, "Surveying the Digital Future," examined the behavior and views of 2,006 U.S. Internet users and non-users. The study concentrated on five major areas: who is online and who is not; media use and trust; consumer behavior; communication patterns; and social and psychological effects.

The survey also queried individuals who don't use the Internet. For 28 percent of the population, not having access to an adequate computer was the main factor for not logging on. The percentage of Americans not interested in using the Internet has declined to 21 percent of non-users, down from 33 percent in 2000.

For more about the UCLA Internet Project, including the complete 2001 report, see

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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