Skip to main content

Optional data disclosure and the online privacy paradox: A UK perspective

Meredydd Williams and Jason R.C. Nurse


Opinion polls suggest that the public value their privacy, with majorities calling for greater control of their data. However, individuals continue to use online services which place their personal information at risk, comprising a Privacy Paradox. Previous work has analysed this phenomenon through after-the-fact comparisons, but not studied disclosure behaviour during questioning. We physically surveyed UK cities to study how the British public regard privacy and how perceptions differ between demographic groups. Through analysis of optional data disclosure, we empirically examined whether those who claim to value their privacy act privately with their own data. We found that both opinions and self-reported actions have little effect on disclosure, with over 99 % of individuals revealing private data needlessly. We show that not only do individuals act contrary to their opinions, they disclose information needlessly even whilst describing themselves as private. We believe our findings encourage further analysis of data disclosure, as a means of studying genuine privacy behaviour.

Book Title
Fourth International Conference on Human Aspects of Information Security‚ Privacy and Trust at the 18th International Conference on Human−Computer Interaction (HCI). Springer