Institute for Software Research International
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


Privacy Indexes: A Survey of Westin's Studies

Ponnurangam Kumaraguru, Lorrie Faith Cranor

December 2005


Keywords: Privacy survey, privacy index, privacy attitudes, medical privacy, consumer privacy, e-commerce, privacy fundamentalist, privacy pragmatist, privacy unconcerned

Since the late 1970 s Dr. Alan Westin has conducted over 30 privacy surveys. For each of his surveys, Westin has created one or more Privacy Indexes to summarize his results and to show trends in privacy concerns. Many privacy researchers are interested in using these privacy indexes as benchmarks to which they can compare their own survey results. However, the details of how the indexes were calculated have not been reported except in the original survey reports. These reports were originally distributed in paper form, and many are no longer readily available. We obtained paper copies of five of these survey reports and found a sixth report online. We also found summaries of eight additional reports online. Here we report on the methodology used each year to calculate the privacy indexes and draw some conclusions about which indexes can be used to infer privacy trends.

21 pages

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