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Kiwis push to increase online privacy - survey

Published: 9:01AM Wednesday May 02, 2012 Source: ONE News

New Zealanders are increasingly concerned about their online privacy, a new survey has revealed.

The UMR research has found the use of social networking sites has risen dramatically in the last five years from 14% of New Zealanders in 2007 to 54% in 2012.

But Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said Kiwis are also being more cautious online.

"New Zealanders are increasingly online but also worried about their ability to control their digital presence," she said.

Facebook is the most popular social-networking site, with 88% of people under 30 now using the site. The number of older people using the site also increased, with 66% of 30-44 year olds, 41% of 45-59 year olds and 20% of those aged 60 plus using it.

While the site is becoming more popular, more of its users are also changing their privacy settings. Seventy-four percent said they have changed their privacy setting, compared to 66% in 2010.

Two-thirds said they had changed their settings so that only their Facebook friends could see their profile, compared to 14% who said everyone could see their page.

One in ten said they had put something on Facebook which they later regretted.

Most respondents (63%) said they were uncomfortable about sites like Facebook and Google keeping databases of what users say and do online, with older respondents the most concerned.

A similar number (56%) were concerned about sites like Google and Facebook targeting advertising at users based on what they have done and said online. More people (67%) were concerned about targeted advertising in 2008.

The vast majority (97%) of respondents believe that the Privacy Commissioner should have the power to order a company to stop if it is found to be breaching the Privacy Act.

'You need to take care of yourself'

Shroff told TV ONE' s Breakfast that people have realised that "a lot of what's happening under the radar with businesses and government, they do need to be held to account for".

Shroff said internet users are responsible for their own safety online.

"Obviously we can't have somebody holding someone's hand all the time that they're online," she said.

"So the big point for people to remember is that when you're online you need to take care of yourself. And my biggest and main piece of advice is think before you upload."

Shroff said the number of people who have changed their privacy settings is up 14% and that is a really encouraging sign that people are becoming more aware of online privacy, as they need to.