Online Privacy - US
The importance of online privacy in the US
- Online privacy is the most important digital security topic for Americans surveyed by the US Census Bureau. However, this might be due to the fact that the respondents believed that Internet privacy and crimes like identity theft and credit card fraud are essentially one and the same.
- About 33% of households said privacy concerns "stopped them from doing certain online activities" in 2017.
- According to a survey by Practice Lead, a staggering 90% of US internet users are "very concerned" about online privacy.
- Only 3% of Facebook users and 4% of Google users trusted the way in which the companies handled their data.
- Almost two-thirds of survey respondents believe that companies having access to their personal data does not improve their online experience.
- In fact, a Harvard Business School study found that US citizens respond better to ads when they do not know that he ads are targeted using their personal data.
- Even though people care deeply about online privacy, the overwhelming majority of them will not do anything to safeguard and enhance their privacy, especially if it requires a time commitment.
- The sale of personal data is on the rise in the US. An MSNBC survey found that only 33% of the top 90 websites in the US explicitly guarantee that they will not sell personal data to third parties.
- One study found that Americans were most concerned with hackers stealing their data, 51%, followed by companies sharing their personal data (26%), online surveillance by the US government (14%) and online surveillance by foreign governments (9%).
How concern about online privacy changed over time
- A study by a VPN company found that 43% of Americans were more concerned about their online privacy in 2018 than a year prior, while 50% were equally worried.
- The conclusion of the study was that only 7% of people were less worried about their Internet privacy in 2018 compared to 2017.
- Regarding the way companies use their data, 54% of respondents said that they’re not confident they understand what companies do with their data.
- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration found that about three-quarters of American households had "significant concerns" over online privacy in 2017.
- However, the proportion of concerned households dropped from 84% in 2015 to 73% in 2017.
- Indeed, concern over data collection by online services dropped from 23% to 22%, fears of losing personal data fell from 22% to 21% and concerns over data collection by the government fell from 18% to 16%.
Popular online privacy topics that attracted media attention
- Concerns over privacy increase when online privacy issues get media attention. In the past few years, media articles usually focused on security breaches and cases where companies sell data without users knowing about it.
- The Equifax breach that affected nearly 150 million American consumers was widely covered by the media, with several reputable outlets such as the Washington post, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reporting on the story for several weeks following the breach.
- Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm hired by Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, obtained data on 50 million Facebook users as a way to find American voters and influence their behavior. The event was covered by media across the world and it even sparked political debate on the issue of online privacy in many countries.