The survey, carried out by the Digital Rights and Governance Project at the University of Sydney, found that of 1600 survey subjects 67% were taking steps to protect their privacy online. But only 38% felt they were in control.
The study found that about 80% wanted to know what information of theirs was being accessed, by whom, and how to report and correct inaccuracies.
“Australians’ personal and professional lives are being transformed by digital disruption, while lawmakers, technology elites and corporate boards fail to keep up," said the report’s co-author, Professor Gerard Goggin.
Another co-author, Professor Ariadne Vromen, said: “Our results provide a snapshot of the nation’s attitudes and behaviours in the digital world and show Australians’ clear concerns about how their information is being used and accessed by governments, social media platforms and corporations."
The report also shows support for state-led surveillance of internet activity is dependent on what it is for. Some 57% favour collecting communications data for anti-terrorism purposes. However, the same percentage oppose a broader requirement for Internet service providers to store customer metadata.
Of the survey subjects, 36% said was okay for employers to look at their public social media posts, but only 20% said private posts should also be open to employers.
Study co-author Dr Fiona Martin said half of those surveyed thought everyone should have the right to anonymity online, but opinion was divided on whether people should be free "to say and do what they want", with 36% for and 30% against this statement.
Thirty-nine percent had been affected by mean or abusive remarks online, and 27% had had personal information posted without their consent. Twenty percent or fewer had been affected by racist remarks, unwanted sexual communications, and cyber bullying.
The survey found that more than a third of parents (37%) had advised their children to reduce their social media use due to the behaviour of others, while almost a quarter (24%) had advised children to delete a social media account due to bullying.