“I feel invaded, annoyed, anxious and I may protect myself”: Individuals’ Feelings about Online Tracking and their Protective Behaviour across Gender and Country

Kovila Coopamootoo*, Maryam Mehrnezhad, Ehsan Toreini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Online tracking is a primary concern for Internet users, yet previous research has not found a clear link between the cog- nitive understanding of tracking and protective actions. We postulate that protective behaviour follows affective evalua- tion of tracking. We conducted an online study, with N=614 participants, across the UK, Germany and France, to inves- tigate how users feel about third-party tracking and what protective actions they take. We found that most participants’ feelings about tracking were negative, described as deeply intrusive - beyond the informational sphere, including feelings of annoyance and anxiety, that predict protective actions. We also observed indications of a ‘privacy gender gap’, where women feel more negatively about tracking, yet are less likely to take protective actions, compared to men. And less UK individuals report negative feelings and protective actions, compared to those from Germany and France. This paper con- tributes insights into the affective evaluation of privacy threats and how it predicts protective behaviour. It also provides a discussion on the implications of these findings for various stakeholders, make recommendations and outline avenues for future work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalUsenix Security Symposium (USENIX)
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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