Personal privacy has become one of the pressure points that comprises utmost primacy in the scientific community. An often debated privacy issue concerns the means of soliciting consent on the use of consumer information: should consumers be asked to object to the use of personal data (opt-out), or should they be asked to consent to the use of such data (opt-in)? These questions have been the center of controversy in Internet privacy for the past few years; various industry and consumer associations hold contradictory opinions on these questions. This paper integrates various theoretical perspectives that could potentially explain the difference in consumer participation between opt-in and opt-out configurations. Specifically, an experiment was conducted to observe the responses of a group of subjects under both opt-in and opt-out scenarios. In addition, we measured the privacy concerns of the subjects and examined whether these concerns could influence the effectiveness of the two registration mechanisms. Our results show that the use of opt-in and opt- out could induce different participation levels, and the disparity in participation was more substantial among the less privacy-concerned population. These findings provide valuable insights to regulatory bodies in formulating privacy policies and help Internet Web sites design proper data collection practices.
Lai, Yee-Lin and Hui, Kai-Lung, "Opting-in or Opting-out on the Internet: Does it Really Matter?" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 63.