Online privacy and informed consent: The dilemma of information asymmetry

Masooda Bashir, Carol Hayes, April D. Lambert, Jay P. Kesan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Every day billions of users allow cloud-based internet services to collect, store, and manage their personal information. The use of this information is constrained only by long, wordy privacy agreements that users likely did not read before clicking “Agree.” Even if they were to read them, would users understand these policies? We present the results of a two-part privacy survey that assessed users’ knowledge and opinions of online privacy issues. We asked users not only what they think, but what they know. Results expose several key knowledge gaps, demonstrating a problem of information asymmetry between users and internet services providers, and strong dissatisfaction with the current system. These findings demonstrate that there is insufficient comprehension and voluntariness in the consent process for users to give informed consent to the collection and management of their personal information, which may in part explain the “privacy paradox.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015


  • Online privacy agreements
  • comprehension
  • information asymmetry
  • informed consent
  • privacy paradox
  • voluntariness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Library and Information Sciences


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