According to a survey, most Americans doubt that their personal data is safe online. They also don’t trust the federal government’s efforts in protecting it.
The poll by The Associated Press–NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, and MeriTalk found that 64% of Americans think their social media activities are not very secure or not at all. A similar number have security concerns about online information that reveals their physical location. Half of Americans think their private text messages lack security.
They aren’t just concerned. They demand that something be done. Nearly three quarters of Americans support the establishment of national standards for how companies collect, process, and share personal information.
Jennifer Benz, deputy director at the AP-NORC Center, stated that “What I find surprising is that there is a lot of support for increased government action to protect data Privacy.” It has bipartisan support.
However, after years of stagnant efforts to make stricter data privacy laws that would hold large companies responsible for all personal data they share, the poll shows that Americans have little faith in the government to make it right.
56% of the population believes that the private sector can handle security and privacy improvement betters, in spite of years of well-publicized privacy scandals at U.S. companies, from Equifax to Target, which exposed millions of personal data of individuals around the globe.
Apple and other companies have been vocal in their commitment to protecting consumer privacy.
Sarah Blick, an Ohio professor of medieval art history at Kenyon College, stated that she feels there is very little or no security. Blick was informed by the college’s human resource department earlier this year that someone had fraudulently applied to her for unemployment insurance benefits.
This fraud has risen since then. The perpetrators purchase stolen personal identifier information from the dark web and use it for fraudulent claims to flood state unemployment system with bogus claims.
Blick stated that he believes his information was stolen during a hack of one of the credit bureaus. However, it could also have been when Target was hacked.
A majority of Americans believe that data privacy of individuals should be considered a national security concern. This is supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Only 23% of Americans are satisfied with the federal government’s efforts to protect Americans’ privacy online.
Terri Carver, a Republican from Colorado, said that “this is not a political issue.” She cosponsored the consumer data privacy bill that was signed into law by Democratic Governor. Jared Polis, July. It will take effect in 2023.
Facebook and other companies opposed the legislation. This follows similar California and Virginia measures that allow people to access and erase personal information. The Colorado law allows people to opt-out of having their data sold, profiled or tracked.
Carver stated that “that was definitely one of the pieces we received the strongest pushback, but we felt it so important.” Individuals are frustrated that they don’t have the tools or the legal support to effectively control their personal data.
Carver stated that it took many years to pass the law and advocates had to give up some priorities such as allowing people to opt in to their data processing, rather than making them opt out. She hopes that the Colorado and other states’ efforts will push Congress to establish nationwide protections.
She stated that “we need a strong federal privacy bill.” It would make sense given interstate commerce.
A broad consensus was also reached about how Americans view technology. 81% of Democrats and 78% respectively said that technology plays a significant role in America’s ability compete internationally. 79% of Democrats and 56% respectively see value in government technology investments.
Minimum 6 out of 10 Americans support the federal government’s efforts to spend more on technology, expand access to broadband internet, and strengthen copyright protections in order to increase U.S. competability.
While there are differences in generational support for government policies that protect data privacy and security to ensure its security, the majority of older adults are supportive. While cybercriminals are supported by 85% of those over 40, only 70% of those younger agree.
Benz stated that “the underlying current is this is an area in which people see a direct part in government.” “This is something very tangible for people.”