Citizen's Attitudes about Privacy While Accessing Government Websites: Results of an Online Study

Stolfo, Salvatore; Johnson, Eric J.; Pavlicic, Tomislav; Jan, Stephen

This paper reports the results of an investigation on citizens' attitudes and concerns regarding privacy and security on the Web, in general, and on the government websites they may visit, in particular. We examine to what extent those concerns can be alleviated by using a Secure Private Portal that protects citizen's personally identifying information when accessing government websites. The research project had two main goals: (a) to develop a comprehensive psychological instrument to assess citizens' attitudes and concerns regarding privacy and security on the Web; (b) to test the impact a Secure Private Portal may have on those concerns and on the way citizens use Government Websites. In order to accomplish these goals researchers from Columbia Business School and from Columbia departments of Computer Science and Psychology, developed and ran a web based survey. Participants were recruited using online advertising through and provided their responses on the web. Early analyses of the results indicate a very high level of citizens' concerns regarding privacy and security of their personal data. Some of the concerns can appropriately be addressed only by fundamental policy changes. Furthermore, the results suggest that citizens perceive those sites which use secure portals as much safer and are more likely to visit them again. The results may indicate a new strategy for the presentation and design of government websites.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Computer Science
Published Here
April 30, 2010


Presented at 2003 Annual National Conference on Digital Government Research, Boston, MA, May 18-21, 2003.