The Global Internet Values Project

The Global Internet Values Project:

International Perspectives on Privacy, Security, Trust, and Freedom in a Networked World

Status: 2010 –

Results from this study will be published in the World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 Global Information Technology Report, which will be made available in March 2011.

Research Team includes:

Professor Soumitra Dutta, e-Labs, INSEAD

Professor Sumitra Dutta at WEF

Professor William H. Dutton, Oxford Internet Institute

Ginette Law (Research Assistant), INSEAD

Derek O’Halloran (Research Assistant), World Economic Forum

Partners and Sponsors:

The Global Internet Values Project is a collaborative research project between INSEAD, the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and ComScore.


The Internet and related information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being integrated into everyday life and work in a growing number of nations.

Over a quarter of the world’s population has access to the Internet, with more than 80 percent of the global online population participating on one or more social networking sites. Nearly 80 percent of the world’s population has access to mobile phones, which are increasingly converging with the Internet. The consequences of these trends include growth in electronic commerce, which is rising at double-digit rates internationally, and a change in patterns of information consumption and creation.

As a result of this, Internet stakeholders ranging from governments to civil organisations to businesses and industries have become increasingly concerned about issues of online privacy, trust, security, and freedom. How are individuals experiencing change in their expectations and concerns surrounding such issues as their control over personal information, the credibility of information sources, the safety of their information, and their ability to express themselves online? These issues are of particular importance to track at this time as nations are introducing new Internet policies and regulations that could reshape the public’s experiences online – for better or worse.

Understanding and Comparing Global Internet Values

Many experts failed to anticipate the societal implications of ICTs that have unfolded over the last 40 years of the Internet. Even when the Internet became commercial and accessible to citizens 15 years ago, most pundits did not foresee the scale of its diffusion and impact. However the change has been rapid and today we are faced with some important questions in the context of increasingly ubiquitous technology.

  • How has the use of new information and communication technologies transformed the way people live, work and connect today?
  • What are the attitudes and behaviours of individual citizens with respect to pervasive concerns such as privacy, trust, security and freedom of choice and expression?
  • To what degree are these issues perceived as important values for Internet users and do individuals and households of different countries and demographics regard them in the same way?
  • How can government, business, and civil society, inspire an appropriate level of trust and confidence—in both people and transactions—online?


This research aims to identify patterns and trends in individual attitudes and behaviours related to online trust, privacy, security and freedom. A conceptual framework has been developed to help identify a typology of Internet users, regarding these issues. From this, a questionnaire was designed to understand individual values, opinions and behaviours regarding various matters such as the protection and dissemination of personal information online, the use of security mechanisms and safeguards, the degree of trust in other online actors as well as perceived levels of freedom online. Measures for high-tech households, patterns of Internet use and online activities were also included in the questionnaire.

Oxford Internet Institute

Data is currently being collected from adult Internet users from countries worldwide through the use of online surveys, designed by the research team, and administered by ComScore. This data collection will enable a more cross-national and cross-regional comparative perspective than previous Internet surveys that tend to be limited to a single locale or nation. The findings will complement research undertaken through the Oxford Internet Surveys (OxIS) and the World Internet Project (WIP), which includes OII researchers.

The research team fielded the survey in early November 2010, and expect data collection to continue to the end of November, when the team will begin to focus on its initial reports. Results from this study will be published in the World Economic Forum’s 2010-2011 Global Information Technology Report, which will be made publicly available in March 2011.

Comments are most welcome