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Americans Are Increasingly Concerned About Their Online Privacy


Image via Dynamix Solutions

As we near the end of the decade, one of the larger issues over the last ten years has been the collection of personal data from corporations and governments. It's increasingly difficult to do anything online or go anywhere without having countless data points on you being collected. 


According to Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans are concerned about the state of their privacy and personal information. More than 60% of U.S. adults now believe it's impossible to go through a single day without corporations or the government collecting data about them. Shockingly, more than 80% of adults believe they have little to no control over the data corporations and the government collect. 


Americans have little faith in the security of their personal data. The report found that 70% of adults believe their personal data is less secure than it was five years ago. Only 6% of them believe their personal data is now more secure than it was five years ago. This is hardly surprising, especially given news of data breaches is almost a weekly occurrence now.


2019 is on track to be a record year for security incidents. Through November, there has been 5,183 data breaches and 7.9 billion records exposed in the U.S., according to Risk Based Security. That represents a 33% increase in the number of breaches and 112% increase in the volume of records exposed since the third quarter of 2018. The report has two possible explanations of what may be causing the increase in security incidents. The first explanation is companies that suffer security incidents are being more transparent. The second explanation is the volume of personal data now being collected by organizations has increased. 


Americans overwhelmingly believe they are being tracked whether online or offline. 72% of adults believe that all, almost all or most of what they do online or on their cellphone is tracked by advertisers or companies. Nearly half, or 47%, believe the same is true for the government tracking them. Even more disturbing, 69% and 56% of adults believe corporations and the government, respectively, are tracking their offline activities such as who they talk to or their location. 


Rightfully so, Americans have the most concerns about social media companies. 85% of adults are at least a little concerned about the amount of personal information social media sites know about them. It seems like not a week goes by where Facebook or Google aren't apologizing for some data mishap. These companies are unlikely to change as long as they continue to get off paying fines that amount to fractions of what they're earning by abusing user data. 


Things are drastically different now than they were when the decade began. Social media and other technology companies have become intertwined in so many routine daily tasks. Furthermore, there's been countless examples of the government working with these very same companies. As we head into the new decade, it will be interesting to see if individuals can be confident their privacy is respected or if things only get worse.  


Leftover Crumbs

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