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Users’ conceptions of risks and harms on the web: A comparative study

In this study, we analyzed Web users concerns about potential risks and harms from Web use to themselves and to society at large. In addition, we assessed how strongly users felt something should be done to address their concerns. Seventy-two individuals, 24 each from a rural community in Maine, a suburban professional community in New Jersey, and a high-technology community in California, participated in an extensive (2-hour) semistructured interview about Web security. Results show that Web users were primarily concerned about risks to Information, and secondarily about risks to People and Technology. Different sets of concerns were identified among the rural, suburban, and high-technology communities. Our discussion focuses on implications for interface design and information policy.