…Evidently Not. New Survey Suggests Most Americans Feel the Security of Their Personal Information and Ability to Maintain Confidentiality Are in Danger
A Pew Research Center study titled “Public Perceptions of Privacy and Security in the Post-Snowden Era” by Mary Madden found that an amazing 91 percent of Americans believe they’ve lost control over how companies collect and use their personal information. Likely the other 9 percent who feel they have control — excluding those not within the margin of error — feel Congress is doing an outstanding job.
Based on the Pew research survey which recorded responses from more than 600 people and her interview with security expert Bruce Schneier, Jane Wakefield’s piece on bbc.com takes up the issue of how Americans have come to view privacy and confidentiality. The following has been excerpted from Wakefield’s article and edited to fit our format. You may find the complete, unedited article by clicking on this link.
Worried about government
[While 91% of Americans thought companies “abused” (our word) their personal information] 80% also felt that Americans should be concerned about government surveillance…
Pew author sees privacy concerns at all-time high
The high level of media attention given both to the Snowden allegations and to large-scale data breaches among well-known US brands means concerns about privacy are at an all-time high, according to report author Mary Madden.
“[There’s] an overwhelming sense that consumers have lost control over the way their personal information is collected and used by companies.”
[Microsoft], Yahoo, Apple and Google have promised higher levels of encryption for personal data to make it harder for governments to snoop.
Social networking sites
Some 80% of respondents who use social networking sites said that they were concerned about third parties such as advertisers or businesses accessing their online data.
Fewer, although still a significant number – 70% – were concerned about the government accessing the information they shared on these sites.
May be worried about government… but want it to address privacy
Large numbers – 64% – said that it was up to government to regulate the way advertisers accessed data.
Consumers aware of tradeoffs
More than half (55%) agreed that they needed to share information about themselves in order to have free use of online services. But the majority (61%) were not buying the idea that online services were made more efficient because of the increased access they had to personal data.
Back to the future
When asked what communication medium respondents felt was the most secure, the winner was the landline phone – although only 16% said they felt “very secure” using it to share private information with another trusted person or organization.
Least secure sites
Social media sites were regarded as the least secure, with only 2% saying they felt “very secure” using such services.
People want more protection
There is already evidence that people are considering changing the way they secure their personal information, with 61% claiming they would want higher levels of protection for their data.
Security expert Schneier’s take
“We know that people are concerned about privacy but we also know that they don’t think about it when they are sharing data on Facebook because we have to socialize.
“People give Google their data and share on Facebook. Surveillance is the business model of the internet. Google knows more about what you think about than any other company on Earth.”
“People want legislative change rather than technology tools. People tend to do what is easy.”
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