With respect to the first question, studies have shown that, although some citizens are privacy fundamentalists most are privacy pragmatists. That is, they will exchange a certain amount of private information for more or better service. Furthermore, a fair proportion of citizens are believed to be privacy libertines, persons behaving in ways that show no particular concerns about personal privacy at all.
With respect to the second or "so what if they do" question, we may need to be convinced that not protecting privacy will cause some harm to a cherished public value. If we accept that privacy is a public good as well as a private one, there is probably a case for government protecting citizens from being too free with their own private information.
We gathered public managers views on one aspect of this issue: Given the potential for citizens not to fully understand the extent and depth of information in existing government databases, governments should protect citizens privacy even in cases where citizen desire to relinquish their privacy rights in return for more convenience.
The pattern of responses to this question suggest that the public managers participating in the survey are generally sensitive to the potential for citizens to be overly eager to relinquish a certain degree of privacy in return for convenience. Again, despite respondents' stated support for "full citizen control over personalization," when we probed more deeply into the issue of control, this support was found to be somewhat soft around the edges.
What to Do
Our survey results indicate that the individuals who are most likely to influence the debate about the control of personalization of Internet services, i.e. public managers, are still somewhat divided among themselves and possibly within their own minds with respect to where control of personalization should lie. Given this division, there is certainly a need to begin a dialog on these issues at all levels of government.
One of the potential dangers is that the public sector will fail to come to any decisions regarding an appropriate allocation of control of personalization services among the stakeholders involved, and will thereby limit their options for the development of personalization services. Such a self-limitation would, in turn, essentially leave even more of the future of the Internet to private-sector providers of these services.