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less often than the others, while in the second condition, there was no difference. Interestingly, these results on the effect of privacy assurances differ from Jensen et al.’s conclusions.

While the privacy segmentation model is stable and identifies similar trends in different countries, it is much harder to associate a particular demographic to privacy preferences. Westin only found weak correlations between gender and concern [304]. Ackerman did not find any correlation [9]. The Eurobarometer survey showed that differences in privacy perceptions are attributable to different national contexts rather than demographics, presumably influenced by local legislative situation and media coverage [102].

Westin’s survey has been employed to classify participants of experimental studies, to support the interpretation of results. However, the segmentation should be interpreted carefully, for two reasons. First, the Westin classification only probes opinions on the use of personal information by commercial entities, and can thus be described as examining people’s attitudes towards data protection. It would be misleading to infer that views on data protection correspond to views on personal privacy with family, friends, and co-workers. In fact, Consolvo et al. found that there was no strong correlation in how participants responded to Westin’s survey and how willing they were to disclose their current location to others with a “person finder” device [65].

Second, Kumaraguru and Cranor point out that the questions in the Westin surveys have changed over the years, based on the goals of the commercial entities commissioning the studies [188]. Thus, it is not immediately clear how well the results of past surveys can be combined with more recent surveys to establish trends.

Smith et al. developed a privacy attitudes questionnaire that is more elaborate than the Westin segmentation survey [268]. Like Westin’s, Smith et al.’s questionnaire assesses concerns about privacy in data protection settings, and its validation procedure has been accurately documented. Based on an analysis of the responses of a large sample set, Smith et al. identified four subscales that constitute overall privacy concerns:

concerns about collection of personal information,

processing errors,

further use of personal data (control), and

improper access to the information.

The advantage of this questionnaire is that it decomposes privacy concerns in meaningful subscales (thus, providing more information than Westin’s survey). However, this tool does not take into account new technologies such as the Internet and ubiquitous computing, nor does it consider issues of personal privacy. Smith et al.’s survey would thus require additions to be useful in these new research areas.

3.1.2 Privacy on the World Wide Web, Privacy and E-commerce

In the mid 1990’s, privacy and security concerns were considered to be significant limiting factors to the development of e-commerce over the World Wide Web. For this reason, several surveys were conducted to assess privacy preferences of web users.

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