New Survey Confirms It: Americans Are Worried About Their Data Privacy

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According to a recent survey made by an analytics software developer company, SAS, it appears that the US citizens are starting to change the way they view data privacy. Until recently, issues like online privacy were far less concerning to an average US consumer. However, due to the significant increase in reports of data breaches, hacks, identity thefts, personal data misuse and more, a large percentage of Americans are now concerned about the privacy of their data.

As a result, the survey uncovered that a much higher number of US citizens is willing to support a legislation that would further protect their privacy. The survey was conducted earlier this year, in July, and it included 252 adults. It came soon after Europe brought its GDPR data privacy laws, which occurred in May 2018.

Privacy concerns on the rise

According to the survey, there were several key findings. The biggest conclusion includes a massive concern about privacy, with 73% of participants stating that they are much more worried about their data security now than they were a few years earlier. Apart from identity theft, participants also expressed concern about financial fraud, theft and sale of their personal data, misuse of their data, and even government surveillance.

Around 64% of survey participants expressed concern about their data security, which was presumed to mean that they are worried about data breaches such as the ones that hit a popular Q&A website Quora, as well as Marriott in previous weeks.

The survey also uncovered that the percentage of those older than 55 years of age that were worried about data privacy was the highest, with 78% of them expressing concern. In comparison, 66% of those between the ages of 25 and 55 expressed increased concern about the issue, while 72% of those under 35 were worried about the safety of their data.

Americans want new legislation

While a considerable amount of participants were worried about government surveillance, it is also important to note that 67% of those questioned by the survey believe that the government itself needs to intervene to protect their digital privacy. This is a surprising discovery considering that the US citizens were historically almost always against government interventions.

The reason behind this view on things may have come from the fact that only around 61% of respondents feel like they have full control over their data. 24% of those questioned, however, feel like they have no control at all. In addition, more than 80% of those who are supportive of additional regulation demand the right to be told who is selling their data, but also who is buying it. Moreover, around 83% of people want to have the ability to prevent the sale of their data completely.

While these are the core rights that the EU citizens enjoy under GDPR, the situation in the US is different, which is something that the survey participants wish would change.

Taking control

Due to the noticeable absence of the government intervention thus far, the survey also uncovered that as much as 66% of participants are attempting to secure their data on their own. Around 77% of them changed their privacy settings, while some even went as far as to deactivate their social media accounts.

Furthermore, over one-third of questioned individuals expressed a lack of confidence in social media, even going as far as to say that they do not trust these companies with their privacy. The confidence in organizations is very low, according to the survey. In fact, the most trustworthy organizations were those connected to healthcare (47%), followed by banks and financial institutions (46%). However, even these organizations have the trust of less than half of the survey participants.

This is still much higher than social media companies, which were judged as trustworthy by only 14% of participants. It should be noted, however, that surveys such as this one do have certain limitations, as 525 participants cannot be taken as representatives of the entire United States, which has a population of 325 million.

It has reported that US citizens are increasingly worried when it comes to their privacy. While many have taken matters into their own hands when it comes to securing their data, the effectiveness of the measures they have taken still remains questionable.

Measures taken by survey participants are still considered to be low-tech solutions, which are mostly limited to deleting apps, declining terms of the agreement, or refusing to accept cookies. More sophisticated measures such as the employment of VPNs or installing anti-tracking browser add-ons and encryption tools are still not entering the mainstream.

This is especially important considering that the US Congress allowed the ISPs to sell customer data without notifying them first. Considering this, many have found it surprising that as much as 67% of participants still expect the government to protect them. The final conclusion is that the citizens are more aware of the dangers regarding their privacy and that they are willing to take precautions. However, they are also willing to take matters one step further and even follow the EU’s example regarding the issue. However, there is still the fact that the government has no interest in damaging big businesses by protecting the privacy of regular citizens.


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