October 16, 2006

This week, MSNBC.com takes an in-depth look into privacy, investigating how technology and security concerns erode privacy, how consumers feel about the state of privacy in this country and what many people are doing to protect their privacy. "Privacy Lost" kicks off today with a look at the many ways privacy is being invaded.

Day 2 reveals the results of MSNBC.com's privacy survey developed by MSNBC.com senior technology reporter and author of The Red Tape Chronicles, Bob Sullivan, and The Ponemon Institute, a research institute specializing in privacy issues.

The non-scientific, thirty-question survey covered a range of privacy issues including how Americans define privacy, who they trust to protect their privacy and what they would be willing to do to ensure their privacy. The most surprising result is that Americans are far more trusting than they say they are. When asked "Who do you trust more to protect your privacy -- government, private corporations," nine out of 10 respondents answered "neither." However, many readers indicated a willingness to do things that offered both the government and corporations a significant amount of personal information. For example, six out of 10 respondents said they would be willing to carry a high-tech driver's license and four in 10 said they would be willing to submit to voluntary fingerprinting. To take the survey and see the results visit http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14850268 .

"Everyone says they are concerned about privacy, but people really seem confused about what that means, and certainly about how to protect their privacy," said Sullivan. "Our survey shows people are very willing to surrender intimate personal details about their lives both to the government and to private companies, even though they say they trust neither to protect this information. My best explanation for this seeming contradiction is that privacy and the potential consequences of privacy invasions just haven't been discussed enough. With this series, we hope to change that."

In addition to the survey analysis , Sullivan takes an in-depth look at privacy in Europe compared to the U.S. He finds striking differences both legally and ethically and examines why privacy attitudes evolved so differently.

Additional coverage during the week includes a look by MSNBC.com's Mike Stuckey at how new identification technologies, including U.S. passports and driver's licenses with computer chips in them, could threaten privacy even more and a piece by MSNBC.com's gossip columnist, Jeannette Walls, examining the escalating conflict between celebrities and the paparazzi.


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