Americans’ privacy behaviors and attitudes in the post-Snowden era

Most Americans are aware of and worried about government efforts to monitor communications and access their data but, interestingly enough, they still look to the government to protect their personal information by regulating advertizers’ use of that data, the most recent Pew Research Privacy Panel Survey has shown.

The majority of them also disagrees with the notion that online services are more efficient because they have access to personal user data.

91 percent of the pollees (607 adults, ages 18 and older) agree that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies, and 88 percent believe that it would be very difficult to remove inaccurate information about themselves online.

It’s also interesting to note that 80 percent of social networking site users are concerned about advertisers or businesses accessing the data they share on these sites, but they still use them.

The method of communication that the pollees feel most secure using are landline phones (31% feel “not very” or “not at all secure”), followed by cell phones (46%), email (57%), text messages (58%), instant messages (68%) and, finally, social media sites (81%).

“When it comes to their own role in managing the personal information they feel is sensitive, most adults express a desire to take additional steps to protect their data online. When asked if they feel as though their own efforts to protect the privacy of their personal information online are sufficient, 61% say they feel they ‘would like to do more,’ while 37% say they ‘already do enough’,” the survey showed. “Just 24% of adults “agree” or “strongly agree” with the statement: ‘It is easy for me to be anonymous when I am online’.”

Different types of information elicit different levels of sensitivity among Americans, and the results show they are most worried about their Social Security number, information about their health and medication they are taking, the content of their phone conversations and email messages being compromised.

On the other end of the spectrum is information about their basic purchasing habits, the media they like, their political and religious views, their friends.

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