Security and Privacy Fears Can Affect Internet Use

Worried about online security? You’re not alone. Plenty of others worry, too; in fact, some even go so far as to do fewer things online because they’re concerned about security and privacy.

According to the results of a survey from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which tapped just around 41,000 households or so to get its data, just shy of one-fifth indicated that they were the victims of some kind of negative personal experience online related to security and privacy (like a data breach or some kind of identity theft).

“It is clear that many Americans have serious concerns about privacy and security on the Internet. NTIA’s most troubling finding comes from a series of questions about whether households had refrained from participating in certain online activities due to privacy or security concerns during the year prior to the survey. Forty-five percent of online households reported that these concerns stopped them from conducting financial transactions, buying goods or services, posting on social networks, or expressing opinions on controversial or political issues via the Internet, and 30 percent refrained from at least two of these activities,” according to the NTIA’s report.

“Privacy and security concerns deterred each of these important activities in millions of households, and this chill on discourse and economic activity was even more common among online households that either had experienced an online security breach or expressed two or more major concerns about privacy and security risks.”

The greatest online concerns among those surveyed included identity theft—the most-mentioned concern by 63 percent of all households. After that, credit card and banking fraud concerned 45 percent, with data collection by online services at 23 percent, loss of control over personal data at 22 percent, and the government collecting user data at 18 percent.