Internet scepticism begins in the home

Cantillon: CSO finds 62% of Irish people believe some web data false or doubtful

Internet security: Nearly 60 per cent of us can block sites and services from using our location data, while 58 per cent refuse permission for personal data to be used for advertising.

The latest data from the Central Statistics Office on household internet security yielded some interesting results.

By and large, we are a sceptical bunch. Or at least 62 per cent of us are; that was the percentage of people who told the CSO that they saw something on the internet that they either believed to be false or doubted the veracity of the information. Of those people, 64 per cent did more research, either by checking out the sources, or by discussing it further online or offline. Taking it at face value, that’s a win for fact-checking and fighting disinformation.

Data tracking

Privacy experts would also be pleased to see almost 60 per cent have learned to block sites and services from using their location data, while 58 per cent refuse permission for their personal data to be used for advertising. Good news if you are a savvy consumer protecting your privacy; bad news if you are a marketer dependent on ad tracking data to target audiences.

However, despite this positive move towards protecting privacy, more than 60 per cent of people don’t read the privacy policies they sign up for. Most of us are still simply checking the box to say that we have read the privacy policy or the terms and conditions before we hand over our personal data, and we are almost always lying.


Privacy policy

Apart from the diligent 37 per cent who claim to do it. That almost four out of 10 people have the time to scan through the often unwieldy documents may be the biggest surprise. The average privacy policy is a few thousand words, and takes about 10-15 minutes to read. Multiply that by all the services and sites you visit, and that’s a fair chunk of your time spent reading words on a screen.

GDPR was supposed to make these policies more transparent, but it seems it can’t do much to make them more appealing – or quicker – to read.