Keep Your Nose Outta My Business


Watch TV for a day and you’ll be convinced that the national pastime is exhibitionism. Leave behind the talk shows and “reality” programs, though, and you’ll find people less eager to share their secrets. As a new Harris Poll confirms, they’re especially averse to seeing personal data fall into the hands of marketers. Asked whether consumers “have lost all control over how personal information is collected and used by companies,” 69 percent said they have. As the chart shows, few people strongly trust companies to handle such data properly. More broadly, Harris asked people to cite aspects of privacy they view as “extremely important.” High on the list were “being in control of who can get information about you” (79 percent), “not having someone watch you or listen to you without your permission” (73 percent) and “not being disturbed at home” (62 percent). Forty-eight percent spoke of “having individuals in social and work settings not ask you things that are highly personal.” Privacy can mean solitude: 60 percent cited “being able to have times when you are completely alone, away from anyone else.” But it’s not always a matter of shutting others out: 81 percent said “being able to share confidential matters with someone you trust” is extremely important.