People Want Strong Punishments for Privacy Violations

People believe that privacy violations should be punished — and quite stringently.  There are interesting survey results in a new report by Chris Hoofnagle, Jennifer King, Su Li, and Joseph Turow, How Different are Young Adults from Older Adults When it Comes to Information Privacy Attitudes and Policies?

The report focuses primarily on comparing the attitudes of the young with older people and concluding that there isn’t much of a divergence.  I blogged about it here.

There is other data in the report worth talking about that I fear will be lost in the headlines about how the young are similar to the old.  And this data is quite interesting:

“If a company purchases or uses someone’s personal information illegally, about how much—if anything—do you think that company should be fined?”

The vast majority of people of all ages (69%) said the fine should be greater than $2500.  They were given choices of $100, $500, $1000, $2500, and more than $2500.

“Beyond a fine, companies that use a person’s information illegally might be punished in other ways. Which ONE of the following ways to punish companies do you think is most important?”

“The company should be put out of business.”  — 18%

“The company should fund efforts to help people protect privacy.”  — 38%

“Executives who are responsible should face jail time.” — 35%

“The company should not be punished in any of those ways.” — 3%

“It depends.”  — 2%

“Don’t know/refused.” — 4%

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1 Response

  1. Gaia Bernstein says:

    I would be curious to see what fines and sanctions survey respondents would select for other offenses. My question is: do people take privacy offenses particularly seriously or do survey respondents tend to select strict sanctions for any offense they are asked about. I think to see how much people care about privacy violations one would need to have a survey that also asks about other violations. I don’t know if this survey included such questions.