86% of internet users have tried to use the internet in ways to minimize the visibility of their digital footprints
The chart below shows the variety of ways that internet users have tried to avoid being observed online.
55% of internet users have taken steps to hide from specific people or organizations
Beyond their general hope that they can go online anonymously, the majority of internet users have tried to avoid observation by other people, groups, companies, and government agencies. Hackers, criminals and advertisers are at the top of the list of groups people wish to avoid.
Users report that a wide range of their personal information is available online, but feel strongly about controlling who has access to certain kinds of behavioral data and communications content.
Users know that there is a considerable amount of personal information about them available online. Among the list of items queried, photos were the most commonly reported content posted online; 66% of internet users reported that an image of them was available online. And half (50%) say that their birth date is available.
Another set of questions focused on the kinds of “data exhaust” that is generated as a result of everyday forms of online communications, web surfing and application use. Respondents were asked how much they cared “that only you and those you authorize should have access” to certain kinds of behavioral data and communications content and there was notable variance in the answers. The content of email messages and the people with whom one communicates via email are considerably more sensitive pieces of information when compared with other online activities and associated data trails.