Consumers struggling to understand browser privacy tools

Consumers struggling to understand browser privacy tools

Data security is increasingly important to internet users, but many people are finding it difficult to navigate a web browser's privacy settings.

According to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University, privacy tools, designed to allow users to opt-out of sharing their personal information, are challenging for people to understand and enable correctly.

The privacy options were created to give users the power to prevent advertisers from accessing their online browsing data, the report said.

"All nine of the tools we tested have serious usability flaws," said Lorrie Cranor, director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon. "We found that most people were confused by the instructions and had trouble installing or configuring the tools correctly. Often, the settings they chose failed to protect their privacy as much as they expected, or to do anything at all."

In March of 2011, advertising companies began working with the Council of Better Business Bureaus to self-regulate how marketers engage in behavioral advertising. The program calls for the advertising industry to clearly inform consumers about data collection.