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Security top fear in Net survey

Online privacy and credit card security are more worrisome to Netizens than pornography or violent images online, a Lycos study says.

Netizens are more concerned about online privacy and credit card security than they are about pornographic or violent images online, according to a study released today by Net search company Lycos.

As the battle for eyeballs and the ad dollars they command rages among search companies and others, firms looking to make their sites "portals" are making moves in every direction to lure loyal users. Free email, chat, personalization, and paging systems have become commonplace offerings on these sites, which include Lycos and rivals such as America Online, Yahoo, and Excite.

Lycos last month stepped up its efforts to differentiate itself and to bolster ad sales by purchasing successful Net community Tripod. (See related story)

The study, conducted by research firm Cyber Dialogue, polled 875 Netizens.

Results showed that 86 percent of respondents were "extremely" or "very" concerned about security of credit card numbers being transmitted via the Net, while only 30 percent expressed similar concern about pornography online.

Similarly, 75 percent were worried about safeguarding their privacy online, whereas roughly half--38 percent--expressed strong concern about depiction of violence on the Net.

Results also showed 73 percent of respondents are concerned about the desire of special interest groups to restrict available information on the Net; 72 percent worry about government censorship of the Net; 47 percent are concerned about Web sites and Internet content provided by hate groups, and 43 percent worry about the possibility of government-imposed ratings for Web sites.

Other findings are as follows:

  • Ninety percent of women said they were extremely or very concerned about credit card security, whereas only 83 percent of men had the same level of concern.

  • Respondents who came online within the last year were more likely to be extremely or very concerned over privacy on the Internet than those who have been online three or more years.

  • Concerns over pornography and violence on the Internet decreases the longer people have been online. The number of respondents who reported being extremely or very concerned over pornography on the Internet decreased by 17 percentage points between those who began going online within the past year and those who have been on the Net three or more years.

  • Of those who expressed being extremely or very concerned over pornography online: 46 percent live in households with children; and 36 percent were aged 30 or older vs. 18 percent who were 18 to 29 years old.

  • A higher share of men than women--by 17 percentage points--reported being extremely or very concerned over special interest groups' attempts to restrict Net content.