Over a quarter (26.2%) of respondents replied that they have provided false
demographic information when registering with Web sites. This suggests that sites
which rely on information collected from registered users, should probably interpret
their numbers conservatively.
11.1% have never registered with a Web site.
There were no noticeable differences between European and US respondents.
More males than females report providing false registration information: 29.8% of males compared to 18.8% of females.
More females report never having registered with a Web site.
Younger respondents are much more likely to provide false registration information
than are older respondents: 32.0% for 19-25 years old, 25.0% for 26-50 years old, and 13.6% for those over 50 years old.
The goal of this question was to gain an initial understanding of user's
knowledge about what can be logged on a per transaction basis. That is,
for each page requested, users where asked which of the following information
can be logged by the Web server issuing the page.
Most users are aware the the time of the request (85.1%) as well as the
name of the requested page (82.7%) are loggable. Following in order of
response rates, the name of the user's machine (71.0%), the name of the user's
browser (59.0%), the user's email address (45.2%), the user's operating
system name (37.9%), a site id the persists across sessions (aka cookies)
(37.7%), and finally the user's physical location (31.7%). 14.7% reported
not knowing what information is loggable.
This question reveals that while the majority of users understand the
basic information that can be recorded per transaction, many do not know
some of the advanced features like cookies. Additionally, the current HTTP
specifications do not enable the user's email address to be logged, thus
indicating that 45.2% of the users hold a false belief about what is loggable.
Yet, given the recent implementation bugs (enabled the user's email
address to be sent to whomever) of certain browsers that implement scriptable
Overall, Europeans tended to have a better understanding of what information
is loggable than their US counterparts.
In general, males tended to have a better understanding of what is
loggable than females, typically by 7-13 percentage points.
Likewise, younger users seem more familiar with the types of loggable
information than their older counterparts, though typically by only
5-10 percentage points.
For this question, users were asked to rate their level of agreement with various
statements about data privacy issues. There were 5 choices, ranging from Agree Strongly
(5) to Disagree Strongly (1).
The statement that respondents agreed most strongly with (4.6/5.0) was:
"I value being able to visit sites on the Internet in an anonymous manner." A close
second at 4.4 was: "A user ought to have complete control over which sites get what demographic information." The desire to control their own information is also seen in the
conditions under which users are willing to reveal that information. (See: Terms & Conditions.)
Continuing to emphasize the importance of control, many respondents agreed that they
"ought to be able to take on different aliases/roles at different times on the Internet" (3.7). But they strongly disagreed with the idea that "content providers have the right to resell information about its users to other companies" (1.7).
Most users, however, recognize that Web site designers have a legitimate need to
collect demographic information in order to better design their Web sites (3.8) and to
market their sites to advertisers (3.8). Most also recognize a role for advertising-supported content (4.0).
The differences between genders were minimal for most statements, except that females
were less likely to see a need for advertising-supported content (3.8) and disagreed
even more strongly with the right of content providers to resell demographic information (1.5).
There were no noticeable differences for different age groups for this question.
This question presented the user with different conditions under which they
might be asked to provide demographic information. Respondents were asked to indicate
which conditions they would agree to.
The condition that most respondents agreed to was "if a statement was
provided regarding how the information would be used" ("use", 78.5%).
The other statement that more than half of the users agreed with was
"if a statement was provided regarding what information was being
collected" ("notice", 59.1%). This second statement refers mainly to
information that can be collected automatically during a Web
transaction, such as browser type and machine name.
Other conditions that respondents were somewhat less agreeable to were: "for some value added service (e.g. notification of events)" ("value", 44.4%) and "in exchange for access to the pages on the Web site" ("exchange", 46.7%). Interestingly, this suggests that respondents are more concerned with their right to control demographic information, than any compensation they might receive for revealing it.
Only 5.9% reported that they would not give a site demographic information under any
A higher percentage of males agreed with conditions that involved some sort of
compensation for their demographic information: "receiving a small discount on products" (25.2%), "in exchange for access to pages on the site" (50.9%), and "for some value-added
Slightly more females would not reveal demographic information under any conditions:
6.2% females, 4.8% males.
For the conditions "use" and "notice", described above, the three age categories were
almost the same. For the "other" category, respondents aged 26-50 agreed more than the
other age groups. In the remaining categories, most of which compensated users for their
information, younger respondents were more agreeable than older respondents.