Internet Users' Privacy Concerns and Beliefs About Government Surveillance: An Exploratory Study of Differences Between Italy and the United States

Internet Users' Privacy Concerns and Beliefs About Government Surveillance: An Exploratory Study of Differences Between Italy and the United States

Tamara Dinev (Florida Atlantic University, USA), Massimo Bellotto (University of Verona, Italy), Paul Hart (Florida Atlantic University, USA), Vincenzo Russo (University IULM, Italy), Ilaria Serra (Florida Atlantic University, USA) and Christian Colautti (University IULM, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-138-4.ch013
OnDemand PDF Download:


The study examines differences in individual’s privacy concerns and beliefs about government surveillance in Italy and the United States. By incorporating aspects of multiple cultural theories, we argue that for both countries, the user’s decision to conduct e-commerce transactions on the Internet is influenced by privacy concerns, perceived need for government surveillance that would secure the Internet environment from fraud, crime and terrorism, and balancing concerns about government intrusion. An empirical model was tested using LISREL structural equation modeling and multigroup analysis. The results support the hypotheses with regard to direction and relative magnitude of the relationships. Italians exhibit lower Internet privacy concerns than individuals in the U.S., lower perceived need for government surveillance, and higher concerns about government intrusion. The relationships among the model constructs are also different across the two countries. Implications of the findings and directions for future work are discussed.
Chapter Preview


Modern western societies, with their prevalent monitoring and profiling practices, have been characterized as surveillance societies (Gilliom, 2001; Lyon, 2001). Indeed, the collection and processing of personal data about individuals are ubiquitous phenomena. An unprecedented amount of information is being gathered and stored by both private corporations and government agencies for the purpose of profiling consumers and citizens. Acquiring more knowledge about consumer preferences and practices, and citizen behavior is useful for private companies to keep their competitive advantage, and for the government to prevent and detect security breaches, fraud and other crimes, as well as terrorist activities. Profiling improves a firm’s capability to conduct targeted marketing campaigns and develop incentives that strengthen customer loyalty. It is also a strategy used by the government to ensure a safer environment. However, profiling also introduces certain threats to information privacy and intrudes into personal space.

Differences between individual countries’ privacy regulations have emerged as among the ten most important issues that will impact the Internet in the first decade of the 21st century (Erbschloe, 2001). Both the United States and the European Union share the goal of providing privacy protection for their citizens (FTC, 2005; European Commission, 1995, 2002) while at the same time securing a safe workplace and environment.

The United States is an individualistic society in which privacy is highly valued as an expression and a safeguard of one’s dignity and need for personal space (Cohen, 2000; Laufer & Wolfe, 1977; Rosen, 2000; Swire, 1999). In the U.S., privacy is a privilege and is a highly valued individual right (Etzioni, 1999; Lyon, 2001; Swire, 2003; Westin, 1975). However, MIS researchers have found that there are differences in information privacy concerns across countries (Bellman, Johnson, Kobrin, & Lohse, 2004; Milberg, Smith, & Burke, 2000).

In Italy, legal precedent and government policy are shaped by the regulatory framework of the European Union. Whereas the United States uses an approach that relies on a mix of legislation, regulation, and self regulation, the European Union relies on comprehensive legislation that, for example, requires creation of government data protection agencies, registration of databases with those agencies, and in some instances, prior approval before personal data gathering and processing may begin (Bellman et al., 2004; Milberg et al., 2000). Examples of regulations in Italy are the Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the Protection of Individuals with regard to the collection and processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (European Commission, 1995), and, specifically for e-commerce and electronic communications, the Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications (European Commission, 2002).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Associate Editors
Table of Contents
M. Gordon Hunter, Felix B. Tan
M. Gordon Hunter, Felix B. Tan
Chapter 1
Alexander Y. Yap
Why are some countries successful with e-commerce while others flounder? This chapter is an update of an earlier research study that the authors... Sample PDF
A Composite Model for E-Commerce Diffusion: Revisited
Chapter 2
Robert M. Davison, Yuan Li, Carol S.P. Kam
In the last few years, Web-based surveys have received increased attention given their potential to cut the costs and time associated with... Sample PDF
Web-Based Data Collection in China
Chapter 3
Jaymeen R. Shah
Privacy laws for the Internet are difficult to develop and implement domestically and internationally. A clear problem is how such laws are limited... Sample PDF
Privacy Protection Overseas as Perceived by USA-Based IT Professionals
Chapter 4
Hongxin Zhao, Seung Kim, Taewon Suh, Jianjun Du
This study attempts to examine empirically how social institutional factors relate to Internet diffusion in 39 countries. Based on nine-year... Sample PDF
Social Institutional Explanations of Global Internet Diffusion: A Cross-Country Analysis
Chapter 5
Somya Joshi, Michael Barrett, Geoff Walsham, Sam Cappleman
This article investigates how, and with what success, global organisations design computer-based systems for knowledge sharing which aim to balance... Sample PDF
Balancing Local Knowledge Within Global Organisations Through Computer-Based Systems: An Activity Theory Approach
Chapter 6
Kevin K.W. Ho, Byungjoon Yoo, Seunghee Yu, Kar Yan Tam
While previous studies on buy-it-now (BIN) auctions focus on the impact of BIN format on economic performances, our study focuses on factors that... Sample PDF
The Effect of Culture and Product Categories on the Level of Use of Buy-It-Now (BIN) Auctions by Sellers
Chapter 7
Shirish C. Srivastava, Thompson S.H. Teo
Though policy makers and governments are interested in understanding the returns from e-Government implementation, there are relatively few... Sample PDF
A Framework for Understanding Returns from E-Government
Chapter 8
Juan Juan Zhang, Sang-Yong Tom Lee
This article studies the role of international spillover of information and communication technology (ICT) in economic growth. We examine the... Sample PDF
A Time Series Analysis of International ICT Spillover
Chapter 9
William Wresch, Simon Fraser
Studies summarized by the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development continue to show that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing... Sample PDF
Technological Hurdles to Caribbean E-Commerce: Responses by Innovative Managers
Chapter 10
Robert M. Davidson, Carol S.P. Kim, Maggie Y. Li, Yuan Li, Carol X.J. Ou
In the last few years, Web-based surveys have received increased attention given their potential to cut the costs and time associated with... Sample PDF
Web-Based Surveys in China
Chapter 11
David Gefen, Tsipi Heart
Deliberate exploitation of natural resources and excessive use of environmentally abhorrent materials have resulted in environmental disruptions... Sample PDF
On the Need to Include National Culture as a Central Issue in E-Commerce Trust Beliefs
Chapter 12
Steven Hornik
The horizontal and vertical dimensions of individualism and collectivism are an important characteristic of cultures. These dimensions have many... Sample PDF
Culture's Impact on Technology Mediated Learning: The Role of Horizontal and Vertical Individualism and Collectivism
Chapter 13
Tamara Dinev, Massimo Bellotto, Paul Hart, Vincenzo Russo, Ilaria Serra, Christian Colautti
The study examines differences in individual’s privacy concerns and beliefs about government surveillance in Italy and the United States. By... Sample PDF
Internet Users' Privacy Concerns and Beliefs About Government Surveillance: An Exploratory Study of Differences Between Italy and the United States
Chapter 14
Shaobo Ji, Qingfei Min, Weihe Han
The purpose of this study is to review current research activities concerning information systems (IS) in mainland China. We thus examined Chinese... Sample PDF
Information Systems Research in China: An Empirical Study
Chapter 15
John Lim
Two seemingly disparate phenomena, advancement in computing technologies and rise in complexity of business negotiations owing to globalization... Sample PDF
A Study in the East Asian Context on Computer Support of Pre-Negotiation and Negotiation Stages
Chapter 16
Sang-Woo Lee, Myeong-Cheol Park, Dan J. Kim
This study relies on a customer demand-based view to examine how mobile number portability affects competition in the Korean mobile... Sample PDF
Mobile Number Portability in an Asymmetric Telecommunications Market: Korea Case
Chapter 17
Hazel Taylor
As outsourced and multinational IT projects become more common, managing risks for these projects is increasingly important. The research reported... Sample PDF
Vendor vs. Client Risks in Outsourced IT Projects: An Agency Theory Perspective
Chapter 18
Susan K. Lippert, John A. Volkmar
Research to date on information technology (IT) adoption has focused primarily on homogeneous single country samples. This study integrates the... Sample PDF
Cultural Effects on Technology Performance and Utilization: A Comparison of U.S. and Canadian Users
Chapter 19
Thompson S.H. Teo
The Internet can be used for different purposes ranging from simple Internet presence to using the Internet for business transformation. This study... Sample PDF
Basic vs. Advanced Modes of Internet Adoption: A Singapore Perspective
Chapter 20
Clive Sanford, Anol Bhattacherjee
This article presents an interpretive analysis of the key problems and challenges to technology implementation in developing countries, based on a... Sample PDF
IT Implementation in a Developing Country Municipality: A Sociocognitive Analysis
Chapter 21
Susan A. Sherer
This article investigates IT investment management processes in the U.S. and Portugal. In Portugal compared to the United States, we find less... Sample PDF
Comparative Study of IT Investment Management Processes in U.S. and Portugal
Chapter 22
Ruey-Lin Hsiao
This article examines e-marketplace adoption difficulties from a contextualist perspective. The analysis of industrial characteristics will unearth... Sample PDF
Misaligned Market: The Importance of Industry Context in Technology-Mediated Exchanges
Chapter 23
Syaiful Ali, Peter Green
Information technology plays a significant role enabling organisations to achieve their objectives. Accordingly, the governance mechanisms over the... Sample PDF
IT Governance Mechanisms in Public Sector Organisations: An Australian Context
Chapter 24
Shirley Chan
In most parts of the world, it is generally considered impolite or even rude to pick up an incoming mobile phone call and to have a longer (and... Sample PDF
Mobile Phone Communication Innovation in Multiple Time and Space Zones: The Case of Hong Kong Culture
About the Editor
About the Contributors