US Gov't survey: Half of Americans reluctant to shop online due to privacy & security fears

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I do a lot of tech support and training for the general public, and in my experience many of the people expressing these concerns do so because they don’t understand how the hardware/software works.

It’s a similar phenomenon to why payday loan places are successful even when banks exist; if you don’t trust or understand how banks work, the clarity that comes from a payday loan place (they have menus, and the service is very straightforward) contrasts sharply with banks (which can seem abstruse).


I mostly agree, but I’d also argue that many people who use payday loans probably known perfectly well how banks work. But many of them have no access to regular forms of credit, because they are poor. While there might be some with no idea about how banks operate, the problem is access, not knowledge.


And the other half of us order from Amazon the way Wiley Coyote (super genius) ordered from Acme.


Legitimate concerns for all of us but im aftaid Too late for it our smartphones monitor everything we do with them just like it kept track of this comment I just made using my smartphone

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This arguably falls under ‘access’; but its not uncommon for the perceived price advantages of banks to evaporate pretty quickly(and with far greater surprise and complexity) if you aren’t banking with enough money to meet any account minimums, pay everything on time, avoid ‘overdraft protection’ like it’s a particularly virulent strain of plague, and so on.

With ye olde sleazy check cashing and payday loans place, even the best-case terms are a usurious screwjob, while the customers a bank actually wants can typically enjoy the privilege of loaning the bank money without paying additional fees to do so; but it’s pretty chilling how quickly and efficiently a bank can work over a customer’s accounts if they trigger an overdraft spiral or other excursion from the terms and conditions(even better, a lot of it is ‘fees’ rather than ‘interest’ so while the effect is largely identical there is no zillion-percent interest rate for pesky journalists to write about).

As with many of the ‘being poor isn’t cheap’ problems, it’s true that banking services are a much, much, better value if you have at least a modest amount of money to put in one; but their ability to bleed a marginal customer dry according to the terms and conditions laid out in the reams of fine print is not to be underestimated.


It’s true that lack of understanding is a major factor in people’s evaluation of relative risks(eg. you don’t want your credit card number stolen, so you are refusing to use the TLS-secured online order form and are instead giving your credit card number to an underpaid call center slave over an unencrypted phone line, where it’ll be dumped into the same database that will probably be breached and leaked within 18 months? Seriously?); but it’s a lot harder to argue that fear of bad things happening on the internet is a reflection of ignorance. They do. Frequently; and often with limited recourse and the customer left spending hours on hold trying to pick up the pieces.

The relative assessments tend to be egregiously ignorant(frets about being tracked online; dutifully swipes ‘loyalty card’ in store…); but the assessment that the internet is a dangerous place populated by predatory agents of typically superior knowledge and power is not really an artifact of ignorance, though inability to produce a coherent threat model is.


Speak up! According to my survey I can only hear half of you!


Free same day delivery of anvils has changed my life!


I used to feel that way, but then I capitulated. The state revenue department (fuck you, south carolina) and my heath insurer (fuck you anthem) both lost my data to whatever opposite part of the globe that data goes to, and I didn’t have to buy a damn thing to do it, so I’m not going to lose sleep over buying something from alibaba, much less amazon.

Also, I went to target, purchased rogaine [vain and futile, but leave me alone] with a credit card (no store card used), and rogaine immediately hit my email inbox with an email about a rebate. Target does not have my email, afaik, but rogaine did from a previous rebate submission. So the stores are not just tracking with granular precision, they are also passing on that information to everyone else. We know who that includes besides their suppliers. This is not new, and it’s not news, and there’s no escape.

Doesn’t mean the paranoid are wrong, just fighting a losing battle


I wonder if that fear of expression comes mostly from employers than government. I hate that we live in a culture where complaining to people’s employers is considered an acceptable tactic for people you disagree with. “It’s not censorship, just the Invisible Hand!”


This just in: baby-boomers still account for a large percentage of the U.S. population.



Perfect April 1 rebrand for Amazon :smile:


They could do a new episode of Road Runner, with Wile E. Coyote being plagued by targeted advertising.


You don’t think that the large number of security issues with many different retailers has something to do with the privacy and security concerns?

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Maybe a little, but the article noticeably lacked any mention of age in relation to the trend. I’ll give you 10:1 odds that the trend is very positively correlated with age. For every tech savvy millennial who’s “reluctant shop online” for the reasons you mentioned, there’s probably a dozen boomers who are just generally scared of computers.

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