New Privacy Study Reveals Consumer Concerns, Addresses, Phone Numbers

CARSON CITY, NEV. ( – Nelson Shank has been online since 1998, but according to a new report by the Internet Privacy Association, the 31-year-old database programmer has yet to make a single online purchase, fearing hackers or marketers will steal his Visa Card number, 8099 0788 341 9800 EXP. 12/01, as well as discover that 213-98-8750 is his Social Security number, and that he uses his mother’s maiden name, Vitale, as his AOL password.

“I would like to buy a novel on, say,, but how do I know my information is safe?” said Shank, who told the researchers he was particularly worried that his unlisted phone number, 775-342-4245, would fall into some marketing firm’s hands.

The Internet Privacy Questionnaire

Shank’s response was one of nearly 35,000 gathered in a survey by the Internet Privacy Association, whose stated goal is to “expand awareness of Internet privacy issues through extensive consumer opinion polls and the dissemination of exceptionally valuable demographic information.”

“Study after study has shown that Internet privacy is the number one concern of those going online, and our survey confirmed this, as 80 percent of respondents stated they did not want their personal information shared,” said IPA director Shellie Jorkins.

What makes the IPA study different, Jorkins said, is the level of detail extracted from respondents, and the way in which the IPA plans to use that information in the fight against online privacy invasion.

“We are so concerned about privacy that we want to share our findings with other affected groups, such as marketing database firms, consumer products companies, and credit card issuers,” she said. “We do this because we think marketers, who are so often accused of failing to respect people’s privacy, should know that there are thousands of people with average household incomes of $74,000 who don’t want their information made public.”

By collecting such personally identifiable demographics, she added, “We let these ruthless marketers know that these are not just nameless, faceless consumers, but real people, with real concerns, with real brand loyalties and real obtainable credit card histories.”

In true open source fashion, Jorkins pledged that the IPA would hold none of its information back, including online browsing habits, medical records, and other highly valuable data, which can be sorted into a wide variety of demographic categories on request, and is available for $9,995. Charging for the information, said Jorkins, is one way the IPA ensures that these third parties “are as interested in Internet privacy as we are.”

Susan Demarak, identified in the report as a 29-year-old mother of three who is likely to purchase a mid-size four-door sedan in the next six months, said she was glad to take the survey. “I was happy that someone is out there fighting the good fight on Internet privacy,” said Demarak. “I’ve even forwarded to the IPA the email addresses of 10 friends who I know would like to go on record against online privacy invasion.”

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