Date of Award

2021-8

Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred Galloway, EdD, Chairperson Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Committee Member Marcus Lam, PhD, Committee Member

Keywords

personal data, privacy, PII, legislation, personal data privacy, data collection

Abstract

In the past twenty years, the business of online personal data collection has grown at the same rapid pace as the internet itself, fostering a multibillion-dollar personal data collection and commercialization industry. Unlike many other large industries, there has been no major federal legislation enacted to monitor or control the activities of organizations dealing in this flourishing industry. The combination of these factors together with the lack of prior research encouraged this research designed to understand how much voters know about this topic and whether there is interest in seeing legislation enacted to protect individual personal data privacy.

To address the gap in research, and to gain deeper insight into constituent feelings on the topic, a 43-question closed-end survey instrument was created to gather demographic data from respondents and to assess individual sentiments in four construct areas: awareness, knowledge, concern, and desire. Based on a sample of 892 registered Democratic and Republican voters from California, Florida, New York, Texas, Ohio, and Georgia, descriptive statistics revealed high levels of awareness, concern, and desire among respondents, although low levels of knowledge, with 79% of participants demonstrating a poor to basic level of knowledge about existing data privacy legislation. When stepwise regression techniques were used to understand the extent to which demographic factors explained variation in the four constructs, age, race, education, location, and/or gender played some role in explaining variation in most of the constructs, although political affiliation was never a statistically significant factor. For example, higher levels of educational attainment were associated with increased levels of awareness, as was identifying as male and white; however, age was negatively associated with awareness. In another finding, identifying as white was associated with lower levels of concern, while age was positively correlated with higher levels of concern. Taken together, the construct regressions explained between 2% and 5% of the variation, suggesting the existence of other unexplored factors.

The opportunity to use this research extends to individuals, legislators and businesses operating in the data collection industry. Based on the results, it appears that individuals identify protection as important and further exploration could be highly valuable.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access

Department

Leadership Studies

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