People Are Concerned About Privacy — But What Kind Of Privacy? (Part 2)

People Are Concerned About Privacy — But What Kind Of Privacy? (Part 2)

Last time, we looked at the level of concern about privacy among bloggers.  But are bloggers representative of the population at large?  We can’t compare bloggers to the world, but we can compare them to news outlets.

We also often hear that other countries are more concerned with privacy than the U.S.  Is it true?

To compare bloggers and news services, I randomly selected 10 days over the past ten months to see if what the ratio was in I took the second day of each month from March 2010 back to June 2009.  I added up the appearances of “Obama” and “privacy” in LexisNexis’s database of U.S. newspapers and wire services.

Recall that in the blogosphere, “privacy” is mentioned about 20% as often as “Obama.”  In U.S. newspapers and wire services is lower: 14.1%.

To compare the U.S. and other nations, I replaced “Obama” with “economy.”  After all, he’s not the president of other countries and is mentioned less frequently in foreign media.  However, media all over the world are very concerned about the state of the economy, so that is a fairer benchmark.

I also compared the frequency of articles on financial privacy[1] with those on medical privacy[2] and communications privacy,[3] both in U.S. and non-U.S. newspapers and wire services.

In U.S. newspapers and wire services, “privacy” was mentioned about 11.9% as often as “economy.”  In non-U.S. newspapers and wire services, the ratio was just 8.8%.  Can we infer that Europeans are either less concerned with privacy, or more content with the privacy protections they have?

In U.S. newspapers and wire services, “economy” appeared in 14,533 articles.  Financial privacy articles appeared 202 times, almost exactly as frequently as the 201 articles on medical privacy.  Communications privacy articles were less frequent at 151.

In non-U.S. newspapers and wire services, “economy” appeared in 21,495 articles—nearly about 48% more often than in the U.S.  However, the raw number of each type of privacy article published was less than in the United States:  151 for financial privacy; 122 for medical privacy; and 111 for communication privacy.

So, it appears[4] that there is more concern about privacy in the blogosphere than in print newsmedia.  It also seems that privacy concern runs higher in the United States than in other nations taken as a whole.  Finally, media worldwide express more concern for financial privacy than for medical privacy, and more concern for medical privacy than for communications privacy.

It would be interesting to compare statistics for Western Europe vs. other non-U.S. newspapers and wire services, and I’ll try to find data source for the next installment.


[1] The search was “(medical or health or patient) /s privacy” plus the publication date.

[2] The search was “(financ! or bank! or money or monetary or investm! or investor!) /s privacy))” plus the publication date.

[3] The search was “(communications or phone or telephone or e-mail or "electronic mail") /s privacy” plus the publication date.

[4] Larger studies including more dates, and differently-designed populations of newspapers and wire services, might yield different results.