Privacy Fears: Most Prefer Online Anonymity

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A growing number of Americans are worried about protecting their privacy online, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

The survey shows 50 percent of Internet users are concerned there is too much information about them that can be found on the Web, up from 33 percent in 2009.

And 86 percent of Internet users have tried to block others from tracking their online activity.

"Users clearly want the option of being anonymous online and increasingly worry that this is not possible," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center's Internet Project and an author of a report on the survey findings.

Many respondents said they're trying to protect their information from hackers, cyber-criminals, and advertisers. Others are trying to keep information from family members, employers, or the government.  

"Their concerns apply to an entire ecosystem of surveillance," Raine noted. "In fact, they are more intent on trying to mask their personal information from hackers, advertisers, friends and family members than they are trying to avoid observation by the government."

The survey, conducted July 11-14, is based on telephone interviews with 1,002 adults ages 18 and older and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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