1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Take it or leave it

June 29, 2011

One out of three Germans has a take it or leave it attitude when it comes to online data protection, a new survey shows. Better information on the risks and advantages of the Internet would benefit German users.

A hand using a computer mouse
Many Germans are unsure how to protect their own dataImage: Bilderbox

Some 30 percent of Germans either don't care about online privacy or entirely avoid putting personal data online, according to a study published Tuesday by the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM).

"Many Internet users have a black-and-white view of privacy on the Internet," said Dieter Kempf, the industry trade group's head, in a statement, adding that need to find a balance between carelessness and overprotection.

The study showed that 14 percent of German Internet users did not care how their personal information was collected and used online while 16 percent of the 1,002 people polled said privacy concerns kept them from using online banking or buying or selling goods via the Internet.

Generation gap

Two retired people looking at a laptop screen
Nearly one out of four Germans over 65 use the InternetImage: Bilderbox

That differences in data protection views largely split depending on the interviewee's age did surprise Thomas Hoeren, a professor of communications law at the University of Münster.

"We have a gap between young Germans who say they live in a post-privacy world and are not interested in data protection and older generation that is still very rigid regarding their data protection," Hoeren told Deutsche Welle.

Across age lines, 47 percent of Germans said they don't feel well-informed enough to protect their own privacy online, the high-tech lobby group's study showed. Younger people were more likely than older Internet users to say they knew could keep their personal data safe.

Overall, 42 percent of Germans trust that the information they put online is secure while 55 percent said they were skeptical their personal information wouldn't be misused.

Improving education when it comes to the risks and advantages of using the Internet is key to tempering views on data protection, Hoeren said.

"The Internet is not bad, as such," he said. "You have to know how to use it so that it's your decision to do something."

Author: Sean Sinico

Editor: Cyrus Farivar