December 9, 2019

Digital Privacy: Survey From Pew Research Finds Americans are “Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information”

From Pew Research:

A majority of Americans believe their online and offline activities are being tracked and monitored by companies and the government with some regularity. It is such a common condition of modern life that roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults say they do not think it is possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government.

Data-driven products and services are often marketed with the potential to save users time and money or even lead to better health and well-being. Still, large shares of U.S. adults are not convinced they benefit from this system of widespread data gathering. Some 81% of the public say that the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits, and 66% say the same about government data collection. At the same time, a majority of Americans report being concerned about the way their data is being used by companies (79%) or the government (64%). Most also feel they have little or no control over how these entities use their personal information, according to a new survey of U.S. adults by Pew Research Center that explores how Americans feel about the state of privacy in the nation.

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There is also a collective sentiment that data security is more elusive today than in the past. When asked whether they think their personal data is less secure, more secure or about the same as it was five years ago, 70% of adults say their personal data is less secure. Only 6% report that they believe their data is more secure today than it was in the past.

But even as the public expresses worry about various aspects of their digital privacy, many Americans acknowledge that they are not always diligent about paying attention to the privacy policies and terms of service they regularly encounter. Fully 97% of Americans say they are ever asked to approve privacy policies, yet only about one-in-five adults overall say they always (9%) or often (13%) read a company’s privacy policy before agreeing to it. Some 38% of all adults maintain they sometimes read such policies, but 36% say they never read a company’s privacy policy before agreeing to it.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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