Analytics and Privacy – How Concerned is the Public?

I see a lot of articles about privacy – Facebook being the primary “offender” these days for violating its users privacy. A few months ago Germany made headlines by requiring any site using tools like Google Analytics to give users the option to “opt-out” of being tracked. However I always wondered, how many people really are concerned about analytics tracking on sites, or are a few more paranoid individuals leading the charge?

To that end I did an informal study, popping into a variety of chat rooms and asked “How concerned are you that web sites track your behavior?”

The conversations sparked by this question were very interesting – a lot of folks were not even aware that most web sites did that. As the conversations continued the majority said they had no problem with it, if it helped make the web sites better. A few folks said it wasn’t a problem as long as they didn’t share their personal information with other companies (not realizing that tracking rarely includes personal info unless they willingly provide it).

A few folks went off into a “national security” tangent, which was unexpected.

However, on the whole, most people I talked to where completely unconcerned about learning that sites tracked their behavior, and many welcomed it, as long as the pay-off led to improvements on web sites that they found frustrating to use.

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