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Increasing Privacy Concerns Deter Internet Usage Among Americans

Online privacy has emerged out as one of the most fiercely debated topics in recent times. Thanks to the ever increasing number of laws being approved to target common internet users’ privacy. Every now and then, netizens’ activities over the web,  are being monitored by the so called surveillance agencies.

This approach of continuous snooping and spying has led almost 50% of the internet users – living in the United States – to change their online shopping habits due to the very fact that they now are seriously worried about their privacy and security on the internet.

A comprehensive survey that included responses from 41,000 households, was conducted by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The survey recorded responses of common netizens about their online activities during the past 12  months. The results of a recently conducted survey highlight the fact that every one in two American citizens, who have an internet connection, and are regular online shoppers, have now started worrying about their privacy over the web.

One of the major findings of the survey was that approximately 45% of US internet users have stopped doing one activity online due to fear of misuse of their personal information. Also, 30% of the internet users have decided not to get engaged in two or more activities over the web, just because they fear about personal data breach.

Online Privacy Survey Results

When asked about their online activities on individual basis, 29% of the respondents reported that they had stopped doing any financial transaction online due to personal privacy concerns. Another 26% of the respondents said that they had stopped buying products or services available online.

More than 25% of the respondents have stopped posting their updates on social media websites due to increasing privacy concerns. Some of the respondents (19% to be precise), said that they have stopped commenting on controversial issues glaring the online landscape, due to the same reason.

Most of the respondents who participated in the survey, (63% to be precise) held the point of view that they were really concerned about identity theft. There were 45% of the respondents who reported that they were concerned about their credit card misuse and banking fraud over the internet. More than 20% of the respondents, (22% to be precise) said they were concerned about the data collection tactics being used by the agencies, and that they had lost the control over their data.

There were some people (13% to be precise) who were really concerned about threats to their personal safety. Now, this is really significant percentage. And most interestingly, 19% of the respondents reported that they had personally experienced online security breach during the last year. More than 30% of the respondents (31% to be precise) said that they use at least five different devices and all of the devices were prone to privacy attack.

Highlighting the mistrust amongst the US netizens about their online privacy, one US official said that “it was causing chilling effects.” On the other hand, the NTIA Policy Analyst, NTIA policy analyst Rafi Goldberg wrote in his blog post:

For the internet to grow and thrive, users must continue to trust that their personal information will be secure and their privacy protected.“[Our] 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,” he further added.      

This is a silent message that American users are not happy with the efforts being put into by the so called surveillance agencies. As the situation stands, the Americans are growing more concerned over their online privacy rights. The tipping point is approaching near.

The NTIA has urged the government to take the matter seriously and improve on the online encryption and security policies already in place.