Monday, May 11, 2015

More People Believe Privacy Has Been Lost

A recent CBS News/New York Times Poll indicated that most Americans believe that the right to privacy in general has been compromised. 52% think the right to privacy is under serious threat, and another 30% think it has already been lost. Only 16% think it is still safe.

According to a Pew Research poll, 91% of adults think that consumers have lost control over their personal information used by companies.  Given the perception of lost privacy, the majority of Americans express negative views about companies collecting personal information about individuals, including what they buy, their credit histories, and income information. When presented with the reasons for or against such practices, only 13% think it is mostly good because it allows companies to better serve their customers and process financial transactions quickly, whereas 83% say that it is mostly a bad thing because it makes it easier for the information to be shared inappropriately. 

Americans clearly think the government ought to be doing more to protect their information; 68% think the federal government is not doing enough to regulate the personal information that can be collected about people. 14% think it is doing enough, and 11% think it ought to be doing less. Even so, the political gridlock in Washington DC makes the passage of stronger privacy legislation a remote possibility any time soon. 

A Pew Research Poll indicated that 61% say they "would like to do more" to protect their privacy.  Given the dearth of online privacy options and software, many are left without information about the choices to protect their privacy.  A recent survey conducted by GlobalWebIndex showed that only 28% of the online population using tools to disguise their identity or location.  Clearly, there is a gap between the desire to protect privacy and knowledge of how to do so.