What is Privacy? Poll Exposes Generational Divide on Expectations of Privacy, According to Zogby/Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee Survey

18-24 Year Olds Harbor Profoundly Different Privacy Perceptions, Survey


Jan 30, 2007, 00:00 ET from Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nine out of 10 Americans
 believe the Internet has changed our expectations of privacy, according to
 a new poll conducted by Zogby International on behalf of the Congressional
 Internet Caucus Advisory Committee in advance of its annual policy
 conference in Washington.
     Ninety-one percent said they agreed with the statement that our
 expectations of privacy have changed due to technologies and the Internet.
 Seven percent disagreed and two percent were not sure.
     But a vast chasm exists between what 18-24 year-olds believe is an
 invasion of privacy and what other Americans consider to be an intrusion.
 For example:
     -- Only 35.6 percent of 18-24 year-olds consider someone posting a picture
        of them in a swimsuit to be an invasion of their privacy, compared to
        65.5 percent of other respondents.
     -- Only 19.6 percent of 18-24 year-olds consider their dating profile to
        be an invasion of their privacy, compared to 54.6 percent of other
     "Whether health care, e-commerce or social networking, privacy is at
 the forefront of every major policy debate," said Tim Lordan, executive
 director of the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee. "This
 survey raises questions that could significantly impact our policymaking on
 privacy in years to come, assuming the MySpace generation maintains their
 privacy views as they age."
     The survey was released in advance of the Congressional Internet Caucus
 Advisory Committee annual State of the Net policy conference in Washington,
 DC on Jan. 31. For more information on the conference, go to
     The Zogby poll underscores how 18-24 year-olds view, and use, the
 Internet in ways that distinctly set them apart:
     -- 45.4 percent of 18-24 year-olds say they, or someone they know, has
        broken up with someone using email or a text message. That contrasts
        with just 7.6 percent of all the other age groups polled.
     -- In good news for Al Gore, nearly 32 percent of the younger age group
        believes the former Vice President deserves credit for inventing the
        Internet, toppling one of the original founders of the Internet -- Vint
        Cerf. That compares with just 9.8 percent of other age groups. Gore
        received criticism in the 2000 election for what was viewed as too much
        credit taking for his role in the Internet's development. The Zogby
        survey suggests that many 18-24 year-olds remember the controversy in a
        way that works to the Vice President's favor.
     While the overwhelming majority of Americans believe our expectations
 of privacy have changed, they remain cautious about when a younger person
 should be allowed to use the Internet. Over 75 percent of those polled said
 a child should wait until they are 13 or older before getting email access
 (and 40.7 percent of them said the person should be at least over the age
 of 16 or wait until an adult). In addition, a whopping 65.6 percent said
 access to social networking sites should be restricted until the age of 16
 or adulthood. Remarkably, 18-24 year-olds tended to be more cautious than
 their older counterparts in this regard. Across the board, from email to
 social networking, children should wait much longer to use the Internet
 according to 18-24 year olds.
     And the Internet is still not viewed as the best place to meet someone.
 When asked if they had a 20-year-old daughter what would they least want
 their daughter to bring home as a boyfriend, respondents said they would
 least want it to be a guy she met on the Internet -- even over someone she
 met at a bar or at a Star Trek convention. Of those polled, 31.9 percent
 considered the Internet boyfriend to be the worst, followed by a guy she
 met in a bar (22.3 percent) and then a Trekkie (16.1 percent).
     Other findings from the poll include:
     -- Americans are split whether the Internet will cause profound change in
        China, or whether China will change the Internet. Forty-three percent
        said they believe that China will inevitably open up as citizens gain
        more access to information despite the government's efforts to limit
        it. But 40.4 percent said it will be China that forces changes to the
        Internet that limit the flow of information. Asian Americans polled
        exhibited skepticism in that only 27.5 percent believed the Internet
        would change China.
     -- One in four 18-24 years olds admitted that they missed a deadline on an
        important project because they chose to surf the Internet instead. Only
        7.8 percent of other respondents fessed up to doing that.
     -- When faced with having to give up television, radio or the Internet,
        18-24 year-olds opted to hold on to their Internet at all costs. This
        demographic decided to jettison the TV first, followed by the radio.
        While the Internet was spared by 18-24 year-olds, it was the first
        choice to be tossed by all other older respondents, who'd rather keep
        their television and radio over the Internet.
     -- Most Americans don't -- or won't fess up to -- using the Internet to
        check up or snoop on co-workers or a potential boyfriend or girlfriend.
        Only 5.9 percent said they have used the Internet to find a co-worker
        and only 5 percent said they have used it to investigate a prospective
     The Zogby poll surveyed 1,200 adults and was conducted from 1/24-1/26.
 It has a margin of error of 2.9 percent. Conference sponsor 463
 Communications helped conceive and develop the survey.
     For more information, contact:
     Danielle Yates, 949-280-0703, dyates@netcaucus.org

SOURCE Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee