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Most Indians ignorant about privacy issues: Study

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

"About 75 per cent of the participants had never read the privacy policy on any website that they interact with and about the same percentage of participants had never read the privacy policy of a website before sharing his/her personal information," says the study conducted by Prof Ponnurangam Kumaraguru (PK) and Niharika Sachdeva for PreCog@IIIT-that claimed to have covered over 10,000 people in India.

'PreCog' is a group of researchers at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, which studies, analyzes, builds and evaluates security and privacy aspects of complex networked systems like social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook.

The privacy awareness about issues in public places was also low, says the study entitled 'Privacy in India: Attitudes and Awareness V 2.0'.

"Participants were not aware of various privacy issues related to cameras in public places, and others taking pictures in public places," it says.

The participants, when asked about the first reactions for the word privacy, showed more concerns about privacy through mobile phones and Internet, than other forms of privacy issues -- physical, territorial, work place, etc.

Majority of them felt passwords to be the most protected Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and then, financial information (bank, credit card details). "In comparison to this, religion, mobile phone number, and health related information were rated as less protected PII," says the study.

In the context of mobile phones, privacy invasion through somebody specifically taking picture of the individual is of more concern than pictures/videos taken through CCTV and the likes, while about 40 per cent of the participants would never save/share personal information in/through e-mails, it says.

The study also says the citizens have misinformed mental models of the privacy situation, as "participants felt there were privacy laws where as there is no privacy in India."

One of the patterns, that was observed across participants was that, all of them felt very concerned about financial privacy.

"We have developed an empirical understanding of privacy perceptions and awareness with a sample of 10,427 participants across India; and have developed a bench-mark for privacy perceptions through this study," say the authors.

The study says, "It is also important for policy makers to comprehend sentiment and opinion of masses for structuring effective laws and policies for citizens of India."

First Published: Sun, December 09 2012. 12:05 IST