Abstract - The Information Society 20(5)

International Differences in Information Privacy Concerns: A Global Survey of Consumers

Steven Bellman, Eric J. Johnson, Stephen J. Kobrin, and Gerald L. Lohse

We examine three possible explanations for differences in Internet privacy concerns revealed by national regulation: (1) these differences reflect and are related to differences in cultural values described by other research; (2) these differences reflect differences in Internet experience, or (3) they reflect differences in the desires of political institutions without reflecting underlying differences in privacy preferences. Using a sample of Internet users from 38 countries matched against the Internet population of the United States, we find support for (1) and (2), suggesting the need for localized privacy policies. Privacy concerns decline with Internet experience. Controlling for experience, cultural values were associated with differences in privacy concerns. These cultural differences are mediated by regulatory differences, although new cultural differences emerge when differences in regulation are harmonized. Differences in regulation reflect but also shape country differences. Consumers in countries with sectoral regulation have less desire for more privacy regulation.

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