It’s tempting to think that there are just two kinds of consumer views on behavioral tracking: some people simply don’t care about whether they are tracked online, and others care so much they would always choose to to avoid it completely.
Results from real users on PrivacyChoice suggest that a good number of people actually have more refined views, including as to the value of oversight.
The PrivacyChoice do-not-track service, TrackerBlock, gives users a unique set of choices when it comes to tracking:
The page explains that “oversight” means that the individual tracking company is a member of the Network Advertising Initiative, and thereby subject to policy requirements and annual compliance reviews. Our explanation goes out of its way to be objective, and arguably “undersells” the idea of oversight as a choice factor.
When given these choices, what do people choose? Here’s are the selections made by the last 1,000 unique new TrackerBlock users:
It’s no surprise that a substantial majority would choose the “nuclear option”; people who find TrackerBlock tend to be privacy-oriented, and many are attracted to our unique aggregation of all tracking companies (not just NAI companies). But I was surprised that even among a privacy-concerned people, nearly one-third choose a more limited opt-out when it is offered.
A more scientific study would vary the placement of choices and take other steps to ensure representative results. But these results still point in an interesting direction:
- Many consumers care about the notion of oversight when it comes to tracking.
- When offered more granular control over tracking, a significant number of users will use it.
- Fortifying the oversight process and explaining it at tracking choice-points is useful to consumers and may temper opt-out rates among companies subject to oversight.