Are We Living in Surveillance Societies and Is Privacy an Illusion? An Empirical Study on Privacy Literacy and Privacy Concerns

Nessrine OMRANI, Christine Prince, Adnane Maalaoui, Marina Dabic, Sascha Kraus

The concept of privacy concerns is a debated topic both at a European level and in individual countries. In this article, we investigate the role of online privacy literacy (OPL) as a determinant of Internet users’ concerns about their privacy. It focuses on Internet users’ knowledge about privacy rights and protective strategies, outlining privacy concerns using procedural privacy knowledge and declarative privacy knowledge as measures of privacy literacy. This is examined in relation to users’ concerns regarding access to their private information without permission, monitoring/surveillance of their online activities using cookies and other tools without their consent, and the confidentiality of their private data against unauthorized access/disclosing/sharing of the data. A quantitative, survey-based empirical approach was used from a European dataset of an online survey administrated to a sample of 26 526 European Internet users. Contrary to the premise that the adoption of privacy-protective measures results in a reduction of privacy concerns, our findings suggest that Internet users with higher privacy literacy reported increased concerns about their privacy. The survey findings also reveal that an increase in Internet users’ knowledge regarding regulations and laws pertaining to personal data protection does not result in fewer concerns about their privacy. Policy implications about privacy literacy and future research recommendations are discussed.

Publication type: 
Scientific Article
Date de parution: 
IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management