Most Americans who use the Internet have little idea how vulnerable they are to abuse by online and offline marketers and how the information they provide can be used to exploit them. That is one conclusion from this unprecedented national phone survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. The study indicates that many adults who use the internet believe incorrectly that laws prevent online and offline stores from selling their personal information. They also incorrectly believe that stores cannot charge them different prices based on what they know about them. Most other internet-using adults admit that they simply don’t know whether or not laws protect them. The survey further reveals that the majority of adults who use the internet do not know where to turn for help if their personal information is used illegally online or offline. The study's findings suggest a complex mix of ignorance and knowledge, fear and bravado, realism and idealism that leaves most internet-using adult American shoppers open to financial exploitation by retailers.
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