Nearly one in two Internet users say privacy and security concerns have now stopped them from doing basic things online — such as posting to social networks, expressing opinions in forums or even buying things from websites, according to a new government survey released Friday.
This chilling effect, pulled out of a survey of 41,000 U.S. households who use the Internet, show the insecurity of the Web is beginning to have consequences that stretch beyond the direct fall-out of an individual losing personal data in breach. The research suggests some consumers are reaching a tipping point where they feel they can no longer trust using the Internet for everyday activities.
“Every day, billions of people around the world use the Internet to share ideas, conduct financial transactions, and keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues,” wrote Rafi Goldberg, a policy analyst at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in a blog post introducing the data. “But for the Internet to grow and thrive, users must continue to trust that their personal information will be secure and their privacy protected.”
The survey showed that nearly 20 percent of the survey’s respondents had personally experienced some form of identity theft, an online security breach, or another similar problem over the year before the survey was taken last July. Overall, 45 percent said their concerns about online privacy and security stopped them from using the Web in very practical ways.
Here’s the data broken down for each individual category: