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privacy preferences from one domain (e.g.¸ attitudes towards the use of loyalty cards or internet shopping) and extrapolate them to another domain (e.g., social relations such as family and colleagues).

Notwithstanding these difficulties, a wide array of techniques has been developed to gather data about users’ preferences and attitudes. These techniques include both quantitative tools, such as surveys to probe mass-market applications, and qualitative techniques to probe personal privacy dynamics. Table 1 provides an overview of the research space, with a sampling of the most used techniques and a few representative studies for each, with an indication of their scope, advantages and limitations. We first show how these techniques have been used in several application domains. In Section 3.2, we discuss the drawbacks and advantages of specific techniques, specifically in relation to privacy. In Section 4.3, we argue that there is still a great need for improving these techniques.

3.1.1 Data Protection and Privacy Preferences

The development of data collection practices during the 1970s and 1980s led governments to enact data protection legislation. At the same time, a number of studies were conducted to probe public opinion regarding these practices. Many of these studies were commissioned or conducted by the government, large IT companies, or research institutions. In the United States, a well-known series of surveys was developed by the Pew Research Center, a non profit organization that provides information on the attitudes and trends shaping American public opinion [238].

One of the most cited series of surveys was conducted by Privacy & American Business [243], a research consultancy founded by Alan Westin (who also worked on the initial version of the FIPS). Westin’s surveys have been used to segment people into three categories based on their privacy preferences towards commercial entities [305]. Fundamentalists are those individuals who are most concerned about privacy, believe that personal information is not handled securely and responsibly by commercial organizations, and consider existing legislative protection to be insufficient. Unconcerned individuals are not worried about the handling of their personal data and believe that sufficient safeguards are in place. Pragmatists, which are the majority of the sampled population, lie somewhere in the middle. They acknowledge risks to personal information but believe that sufficient safeguards are in place.

Temporal trends over the past ten years show that the distributions in the three categories vary over time [303], and in general, the percentages hover around 15%­–25% fundamentalists, 15–25% unconcerned, and 40–60% pragmatists. Similar figures are reported by the Eurobarometer survey in the EU [102]. This distribution has also been observed in a scenario-based survey by Ackerman et al. [9] and in a controlled experiment [169].

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