back to article Americans far more willing to hand over personal data

Americans are outspoken in their concerns about what companies are doing with the vast amounts of personal data they're collecting, but more than half are apparently OK with allowing organizations access if doing so gives them a better user experience. Those Americans are joining a growing group of people worldwide who …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    'Better' user experience

    We all want a better user experience, but 'better' is in the eye of the beholder. For a company selling things, better means more sales. For someone like me, 'better' means not being pestered with advertisements, and not having to wade through a list of hundreds of 'affiliated' organisations which may get to see my personal data.

    I also want the data I am prepared to provide to an organisation to stay within that organisation (and essential affiliates) and not be hacked or sold for profit.

    I wonder whether the organisers of the review defined 'better user experience'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Better' user experience

      Data slurping company commissions carefully worded 'dark pattern' survey to encourage users, sorry, people, sorry 'guests', to give answers that can be contorted to show that said 'resource inputs' just lurve to be milked for their lovely fresh data. My, how surprising.

      1. "Go stick your head in a pig".

      2. Anyone who uses 'experience' in this context (an experience is what you have at a theme park, gig, film, on holiday, etc) is not at all to be trusted, and should preferably be pushed off the nearest cliff.

  2. nematoad Silver badge
    Unhappy

    "... close to 60 per cent of people globally believe it's worth allowing companies to access their personal data if it means a better user experience,"

    Aye, fat, dumb and happy.

    Are they really aware of the Faustian pact they are making with the likes of Facebook and Google?

    I think a lot of them are not.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      .. and also a lot of work goes into the wording of surveys, to help get more of the responses your sponsor wants.

      Usually you see these executive summary type presentations of results, but rarely do you see the precise wording of all the questions asked - as that would reveal how flawed the survey was*

      * Yes, I'm aware some people create surveys with great diligence and care and have nuanced questions and possible answers, but typically the Venn diagram of the intersection of good surveys with marketing style surveys is like this ... oo

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      @nematoad

      "Aye, fat, dumb and happy."

      Another way of looking at it is people want to be fat, dumb and happy and people have been striving towards that throughout history. We like better services, options, variety, information and things tailored to our tastes vs the blanket gruel to cover as many people as possible.

      Of course we are fatter. We dont have to starve until we leave the cave, kill something and drag it back. Of course we are dumber. We are happy for instruction manuals not to look like NASA schematics for a rocket and can call people in to repair the things we dont wish to routinely pull to pieces every year.

      Of course we want to be happy. Look at the world and various countries out there and how great our lives are!

      Who doesnt want a better life?

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: @nematoad

        Imagine how happy your ancestors would be if they could see you in your nice warm home with a full belly.

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: @nematoad

        As you want a better life, try the survey:

        Would you tick "like" and "dislike" buttons so I can select news for you that you like? (Eg: presented in a style that matches your confirmation bias until you trust my news to the point of buying ivermectin for COVID.)

        Would you give me access to details of your income and expenditure so I can list products at great prices? (Eg: match my prices to what I decide you can afford.)

        Would you give me your bank details in return for a better life? (Eg: I get the better life.)

        I can place a fictional carrot in the direction I want you to answer the survey. You can answer everything the way I want but that does not lead you to a real carrot.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: @nematoad

          @Flocke Kroes

          "Would you tick "like" and "dislike" buttons so I can select news for you that you like?"

          Sure. Since I can grab my news from any news source I like (and I do) I have no problem getting news that isnt insane extremist right wing nor braincells never developed extreme left etc being advertised to me. Like and dislike sending me things I find entertaining... I aint gonna complain about.

          "Would you give me access to details of your income and expenditure so I can list products at great prices?"

          Oddly this sucks badly (thinking amazon) offering stuff I already bought. But occasionally I get recommended something in the area of what I am interested in and not being shown stupidly expensive tat (nor cheap tat) I have no interest in would be nice.

          "Would you give me your bank details in return for a better life?"

          Last I checked I am in the UK so by choosing to live here I already do that thanks to HMRC.

          "I can place a fictional carrot in the direction I want you to answer the survey."

          Have to be a worthy carrot to get me to lie but if it is, why not. The survey doesnt change other peoples opinions obviously and a nice carrot in my best interests would make me smile.

          "You can answer everything the way I want but that does not lead you to a real carrot."

          No carrot not interested. Try someone else

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

    Well that's a big, fat single point of entry if ever I saw one.

    Of course, I've been working in IT for more than a quarter of a century. I have no problem managing (checks list) around 200 passwords. I never use the same password twice, nor the same login.

    But I know what I'm doing. People who view the Internet as their own personal shopping space, and their computing device as an enabler, those people simply cannot imagine everything that goes on behind and likely wouldn't understand if you explained it to them. It's a shopping cart, what's the problem ? That is their point of view, and I'm not going to blame them.

    Maybe, just maybe, all this data sharing and consumer pressure just might end up in creating a world where everyone, not just IT professionals, have the means to really manage where their data is going and who can use it.

    Maybe.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

      Why in the world would you have 200 different passwords? You can't possibly have that many accounts where it matters if it is compromised. If you used the same password at The Register and the New York Times, meaning one gets compromised both do, who cares?

      I only worry about good password practices for stuff that matters, i.e. where they have private data (i.e. health care type stuff) or my financial info is at stake. Pretty much everything else gets the same password - or really one of several variations of the same password since every site has its own annoying rules about length and required characters. That dozens of logins can be compromised if one is doesn't matter to me, because I don't care about the security of any of them, so if I don't login to it regularly I have to try several variations to get the one that works.

      It isn't like there's any incentive for hackers to want to compromise logins to the The Register or similar web forums, so even though I've checked and I know the login I'm using is on the list of compromised accounts and has been for years no one cares. They might try it at my bank or credit card company, but too bad I use real passwords there!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

        Big mistake speaking the truth, buddy. The downvote brigade will show up and point out how wrong you are.

        Anon because I've been in your place and dared to contradict them.

        1. DS999 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

          The downvote brigade will show up

          All part of my plan to make stealing my Reg account's password even less valuable

      2. FILE_ID.DIZ
        Boffin

        Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

        For me, everyone gets a different email address, a different username (if allowed, and unless its a forum like this site, I use the password generator to create the login name too) and a different password. >300 email addresses at last count a few months ago and just checked, 462 entries in my password vault.

        Sure, I probably use <10 of them on a weekly basis, but they're all there.

        It would be harder to use the same password across various websites. I'd have to dig into a different website's entry in my password vault, note the new site in the entry and hope that the password rules for site I'm copying matches the new site's policies.

      3. Updraft102

        Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

        If you have the tools to easily and properly use strong, unique passwords just for the sites that matter, they're already there for you to use for the rest of the sites as well. It's easier to have the password manager create and send a unique, 14 or more character password to a new site for which you are creating a new account than to go look up the password you happen to be using for some other login you don't care about and use that. Very seldom is the password that is generated rejected for not following the rules of whatever site. It ticks all the boxes, and the only rejection would be from a site that demands less, not more-- and in that case it's easy enough to take the generated password and remove the offending bits by hand.

        I've never seen most of my passwords, let alone typed them, and I am not about to begin now. It would take more work to do what you describe, not less.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

          Next you'll post about your password manager borked and all your apsswrods lost.

          Great security idea, put all your passwords in one place.

          1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

            Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

            It's fine if you have an encrypted database using a strong password on hardware you control. If it's open source and backed up sensibly (though I'm guessing you also think backups are for losers), then the risk is far lower than the risk of being completely owned through your carelessness.

            You may think that little pointless logins to sites that "don't matter" can all have the same password without that being a problem, but each site compromised is a piece in the puzzle to taking over your online life; it doesn't take many pieces before someone can just pretend to be you and get the rest of the puzzle. No site that has actual personal data – even if it's just a valid email address – can be said to "not matter".

            Being ignorant is one thing, but when people who do this for a living (and repeatedly have to fix the cockups of people like you) tell you that you're being a fool, and then you continue to be a fool anyway, that's simple arrogance.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

              How is anyone going to compromise my "online life" when I don't even use my real name as my handle in forums? I'm guessing you don't either, though maybe I'm going too far in assuming your unusual handle is not your real name.

              If my Reg account or other account not tied to anything important like money or private information is taken over by hackers, big deal. I make a new account, life goes on just as before. Who here would notice or care if DS999 started posting against the rules and the moderators cancelled the account, and I had started using DS444 or Sleazebot or whatever new handle I decided to create when I was no longer able to login to the DS999 account?

          2. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

            "Next you'll post about your password manager borked and all your apsswrods lost."

            For me it's the issue with getting a new device set up with said password manager or wanting to login to something from a computer that isn't mine. I use my own devices for very important accounts, but might want to get into The Reg remotely some time.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

        "I only worry about good password practices for stuff that matters"

        I do the same thing. I don't have an InstaPintaTwitFace account so I'm unlikely to be socially impacted by a password leak. The few financial/health/government logins are secured with fiendishly complex pass phrases to the limits allowed and coupled to email accounts (my domains) that I don't use for other things. All of those most important logins are unique passwords.

        If I forget a password for a message board, it doesn't take me too many tries to guess it.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

      I use a junk Google account to log into junk websites.

      1. FILE_ID.DIZ

        Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

        Last time I checked, the Google-borg wants your phone number to create a faux Google account these days.

        Of course, I created my only gmail account back in 2004 and I've declined any additional nudges to provide more information about myself since then (and I still use a flip phone these days).

        NB - Apparently an IP address is PII in some highly populated, weirdo places in the northern hemisphere along that prime meridian line, so YYMV.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: "73% of users worldwide use their Google or Facebook accounts to log into other apps"

          "Last time I checked, the Google-borg wants your phone number to create a faux Google account these days."

          Of course they want your phone number. With portability of numbers these days and so many people keeping the same number for most of their life, it's just as good as serial number for you.

          With all of the entities that want you to give them your phone number, how many actually call you? I don't do "text" so I don't count that. The vast majority of those entities are sending you email for anything important and leveraging any perceived relationship with you to justify sending you spam via text. Having your number also makes you unique from people you share a name with. It allows them to use submitted contact lists to map out your friends, family and work mates.

          I don't give out my phone number to companies or anybody that is a big social media user. I expect to be getting a new number this year mainly for business, but it does mean that I'll be shifting of bunch of comms. The number that I have now and have had for years will be eventually phased out and I'll get a new personal number that people that have kept in touch over the years will get and those that haven't, won't.

  4. Barry Rueger

    Really??

    Americans far more willing to hand over personal data

    As long as it translates into a better user experience

    And when exactly did that ever happen?? My best user experience has been with Linux and I've handed over no personal info.

    1. Updraft102

      Re: Really??

      So I am guessing the American sample didn't consist of you, exactly.

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Lacking information?

    "more than half are apparently OK with allowing organizations access if doing so gives them a better user experience." Probably because they haven't been properly informed about what's actually being done with their data.

    "The opinions of 10,000 men are worthless if they know nothing about the subject" [Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius AD 121-180]

    1. Michael Hoffmann
      Headmaster

      Re: Lacking information?

      Alright, I'll be that guy: apart from a bazillion "inspirational quotes" sites, where did M.A actually write that? I'm trawling through my translated copy of "Meditations" and find zilch.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Lacking information?

        @Michael Hoffmann - "where did M.A actually write that?"

        Immediately before his famous quote, "90% of these quotes on the Internet are made up"

      2. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Lacking information?

        It was written (in bad Latin) on a wall in Jerusalem by some guy named Brian.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lacking information?

          well, he didn't want to lose his balls.

  6. Someone Else Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Just as I thought...

    Just goes to reinforce the widely held perception that, as a class, Americans are stupid!

    And I can state that from first-hand observation. Something about Familiarity and Contempt...

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Just as I thought...

      You don't need to share your personal data with Facebook ... all your friends are sharing it for you.

      1. Winkypop Silver badge

        Re: Just as I thought...

        Indeed

        That’s why I don’t have any friends!!

        Bwaaaahahahaaaaa

    2. Updraft102

      Re: Just as I thought...

      Some more stupid than others. But does your adage hold that Brazilians are far more stupid still?

  7. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Nuances

    Reading the article I get the impression that the questions were framed as "Would you mind sharing some personal info to get better health care?"

    It is absolutely not clear to me if questions like "What would you prefer: sharing every minute detail about yourself or paying a few pennies per month to get the same level of user experience?" were included.

    1. onemark03

      Re: Nuances: "Would you mind sharing some personal info to get better health care?"

      How do you define "better health care" in this context?

  8. HildyJ Silver badge
    Windows

    My own survey

    1) Would I prefer a world where companies don't share or sell my data? Yes.

    2) Do I ever see that happening? No.

    3) Do I use an Android or Apple smartphone despite all the data they collect? Yes.

    4) Would I consider a feature phone or a Linux phone? No.

    5) Do I know people who use Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, etc.? Yes.

    6) Do I think I can get them to quit? No.

    7) Does the modern world suck? Yes and No.

    1. Updraft102

      Re: My own survey

      1,2: Agree.

      3. Hell no.

      4. Of course.

      5. I know _of_ them. I wouldn't consider them friends.

      6. Not worth my concern to think about one way or another.

      7. Yes and yes.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: My own survey

      My latest phone is de-googled. Still runs android, but doesn't talk to Google. Some things won't run, but nothing I use has had that problem and there are alternatives for many things.

  9. Kev99 Silver badge

    Goes to prove that American are also more stupid than others.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      @msobkow - "I don't understand why people in normal, civilized western nations would be so afraid of having their spending, surfing, and viewing habits tracked and tallied."

      A few thoughts to get you started:

      • It changes the relationship between buyer and seller to the detriment of the buyer. The supermarket can offer you the minimum quality product you will accept at the maximum price you can afford.
      • the information can be used to manipulate your thoughts and beliefs.
      • Sensitive personal information may be leaked inadvertently, e.g. a pop-up ad for haemorrhoid cream during your important presentation.
      • sensitive personal information may be stolen and misused by criminals. It doesn't harm the data-collector if YOUR identity is stolen.
      • normal, civilized western nations can change into less-civilised places quite quickly (invoke Poe's law here)

      Sure, it's been going on in some form for centuries, but IT makes it so much more dangerous.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "sensitive personal information may be stolen and misused by criminals. It doesn't harm the data-collector if YOUR identity is stolen.

        "

        So far the punishment for companies leaking user data has been for them to give everyone affected a couple of years of credit monitoring. I'm covered head to foot in super deluxe impact armor as far as credit issues go at this point. If those companies were subject to serious fines and executives possibly liable for prison time, maybe things would change. I mean fines that could end even a large organization. They collect and keep all of this data because the downside is so minimal. If it were a much bigger liability, they'd be more diligent about keeping it secure and only keeping what they really need.

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Says someone who's job clearly draws on this information.

      What part of NO DATA LEAVES MY PC WITHOUT MY CONSENT do you not understand?

      There is an easy answer, of course. Don't use systems that compromise that situation.

      Besides, data mining algorithms for adverts are overrated. Data miners think I like cycling. I do. I'm also an overweight computer nerd. Endless adverts for luminous spandex are not particularly effective.

      Try producing information rather than data and one might get somewhere. The war against bad statistics is never-ending. Darryl Huff more relevant a read than ever before.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don’t just don’t

    Let the Internet know who you are.

    - A dog

  12. Omnipresent

    FYI

    It's because we are making a shit tone of cash money on it, and have been for a while. The young people see the money and buy in instantly. It's all they care about, it's a cash grab. A modern gold rush. The young people (on social, the new socialites) have jobs that DEPEND on everyone being online. Why would they give that up?

    The most criminal thing I can think of is when I see someone posting their flipping BABY pics online. Good God. Imagine if I gave that baby a camera and told them to start posting pictures of the "adult" online.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But everyone else is doing it"

    Perhaps they think that if the number of people using Hazard XYZ exceeds a magic predetermined point, all the problems go away?

    "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups." -- https://despair.com/products/idiocy

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better user experience!

    That's where governments are getting it wrong.

    They're just as cr*p if you give them data as they are if you don't.

  15. bigtreeman

    Discount cards

    We were at our favourite BoatingFishing&Camping store and her membership had disappeared from their system, so re-enter phone number, email and details to get the 5% discount.

    Yesterday at RipEveryPersonalCustomerOff they had a week of 30% off for club members.

    So are the marked shelf prices always more than 30% over an acceptable retail price ?

    What is the real $$$ value of that data to the retailer ?

    'She who must be obeyed' has a purse full of these loyalty cards so her purchases can be easily tracked and collated.

    Discounts are more attractive than just user experience, and they tie in tangible consumerism with online data.

    I don't have any loyalty, I am definitely polygamous,

    and keep an eye on the sky for those black helicopters.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Discount cards

      "We were at our favourite BoatingFishing&Camping store and her membership had disappeared from their system, so re-enter phone number, email and details to get the 5% discount."

      So, if you bought £50 worth of stuff, you gave them the great deal of £2.50 to allow them to keep tracking every purchase you make with them forever. They can also sell access to your info in their database so others can make sure the information they have on you is current.

      In days gone by a loyalty card was a way to keep you shopping at the same store for a few pence in savings each time. Now they earn a few bob every month by "sharing" your information with their "partners" and you might not get those savings over what you might have paid buying the same products someplace else. I remember the days when the donut shop would hand out a coffee card and would punch it each time you purchased a coffee. After nine cups, you'd get the 10th for free. To get the same deal now, you need to get their app and fill out a questionnaire. I'll just pay full price, thanks.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's sneaky sometimes.

    Go to Google and search for "ups tracking" or "usps tracking" or "fedex tracking". The Mighty Google will come back with a very helpful "Track your Package" box at the top of the search results. Simply put your tracking number in the text field and click the "Track Package" button and The Chocolate Factory will handle the confusing job of connecting to the desired shipping company's website, grabbing the details of your shipment, and displaying it in a dumbed-down fashion. Seems like a nice, helpful service that Willy Wonka provides. Other than the fact that Google now knows your address, possibly the vendor's name you bought the item from, and the date that the item is expected to arrive. What do they do with that data? Who knows and who cares, it's none of your business to know what's Google's business. They get to know everything about you, yet you barely know anything about them or their algorithms or their million points of data.

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