A latest PEW research, on public perceptions of privacy and security in the post-Snowden era, reveals American’s lack of confidence that they have control over their personal information. That pervasive concern applies to everyday communications channels and to the collectors of their information—both in the government and in corporations.
Privacy evokes a constellation of concepts for Americans—some of them tied to traditional notions of civil liberties and some of them driven by concerns about the surveillance of digital communications and the coming era of “big data.” While Americans’ associations with the topic of privacy are varied, the majority of adults in a new survey by the Pew Research Center feel that their privacy is being challenged along such core dimensions as the security of their personal information and their ability to retain confidentiality. Summary of findings:
- Widespread concern about surveillance by government and businesses: Perhaps most striking is Americans’ lack of confidence that they have control over their personal information. That pervasive concern applies to everyday communications channels and to the collectors of their information—both in the government and in corporations. For example:
- 91% of adults in the survey “agree” or “strongly agree” that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.
- 88% of adults “agree” or “strongly agree” that it would be very difficult to remove inaccurate information about them online.
- 80% of those who use social networking sites say they are concerned about third parties like advertisers or businesses accessing the data they share on these sites.
- 70% of social networking site users say that they are at least somewhat concerned about the government accessing some of the information they share on social networking sites without their knowledge.
- Most are aware of government efforts to monitor communications
- There is little confidence in the security of common communications channels, and those who have heard about government surveillance programs are the least confident
- Most say they want to do more to protect their privacy, but many believe it is not possible to be anonymous online
- Not everyone monitors their online reputation very vigilantly, even though many assume others will check up on their digital footprints
- Context matters as people decide whether to disclose information or not
- Different types of information elicit different levels of sensitivity among Americans. ocial security numbers are universally considered to be the most sensitive piece of personal information, while media tastes and purchasing habits are among the least sensitive categories of data.
About this Report
This report is the first in a series of studies that examines Americans’ privacy perceptions and behaviors following the revelations about U.S. government surveillance programs by government contractor Edward Snowden that began in June of 2013. To examine this topic in depth and over an extended period of time, the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project commissioned a representative online panel of 607 adults who are members of the GfK Knowledge Panel. These panelists have agreed to respond to four surveys over the course of one year. The findings in this report are based on the first survey, which was conducted in English and fielded online January 11-28, 2014. In addition, a total of 26 panelists also participated in one of three online focus groups as part of this study during August 2013 and March 2014.
To read the full report click on this link