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US Gov’t Survey: Fear Of Privacy Violations Affect Internet Use

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Who knew? It turns out that many people are so afraid of privacy violations that it has affected the way they use the internet.   A new survey from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration showed that a little less than 20% of users had already had a negative experience online related to privacy and security.

The study also showed that 45% of people had privacy and security fears that prevented them from conducting financial transactions such as buying goods and services.  It also prevented them from posting on social networks or voicing opinions on political or other controversial issues.

30% of users avoided two of these activities.  The study stated that

It is clear that many Americans have serious concerns about privacy and security on the Internet.

As would be expected, the primary concern among respondents to the survey was identity theft.  This was cited by 63% of survey participants.  Credit card and banking fraud was in second place at 45%  while data collection and storage by online services came in third at 23%.  Concern about government collection of user data trailed at 18%.

The NTIA said that its findings were “troubling”.  In a blog post on the NTIA website , the agency stated:

NTIA’s initial analysis only scratches the surface of this important area, but it is clear that policymakers need to develop a better understanding of mistrust in the privacy and security of the Internet and the resulting chilling effects

Privacy and security fears were a lot more prevalent among households that had already experienced some sort of breach.  With 19% of the households already reporting some sort of negative privacy or security related experience, there is concern that the trend towards reduced use of the internet for critical activities would accelerate.

The agency said that it will conduct more studies in this area and is currently soliciting comments on privacy, security and other policy issues related to the “internet of things”.

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