"I feel invaded, annoyed, anxious and I may protect myself": Individuals' Feelings about Online Tracking and their Protective Behaviour across Gender and Country

Authors: 

Kovila P.L. Coopamootoo and Maryam Mehrnezhad, Newcastle University; Ehsan Toreini, Durham University

Abstract: 

Online tracking is a primary concern for Internet users, yet previous research has not found a clear link between the cognitive understanding of tracking and protective actions. We postulate that protective behaviour follows affective evaluation of tracking. We conducted an online study, with N=614 participants, across the UK, Germany and France, to investigate how users feel about third-party tracking and what protective actions they take. We found that most participants' feelings about tracking were negative, described as deeply intrusive - beyond the informational sphere, including feelings of annoyance and anxiety, that predict protective actions. We also observed indications of a ‘privacy gender gap', where women feel more negatively about tracking, yet are less likely to take protective actions, compared to men. And less UK individuals report negative feelings and protective actions, compared to those from Germany and France. This paper contributes insights into the affective evaluation of privacy threats and how it predicts protective behaviour. It also provides a discussion on the implications of these findings for various stakeholders, make recommendations and outline avenues for future work.

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BibTeX
@inproceedings {277142,
author = {Kovila P.L. Coopamootoo and Maryam Mehrnezhad and Ehsan Toreini},
title = {"I feel invaded, annoyed, anxious and I may protect myself": Individuals{\textquoteright} Feelings about Online Tracking and their Protective Behaviour across Gender and Country},
booktitle = {31st USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-31-1},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {287--304},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/usenixsecurity22/presentation/coopamootoo},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,
}