Spying Fears And Data Breaches Affect Internet Use

By Victor Thomson , May 16, 2016 08:00 AM EDT

An official study conducted by the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration has find that government Internet surveillance and data breaches left people concerned about their Internet use.

Following a survey conducted in 41,000 homes, the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has published the results on its official website. According to their findings, nearly half of the Americans surveyed have reduced their Internet activity over security and privacy concerns.

Citing the results of the survey, Engadget reports that about 26 percent of Americans answering the questionnaire have skipped online shopping and around 29 percent of them have avoided online finances. Another 26 percent of those surveyed have decided against posting on social networks, while 19 percent decided to not post "controversial" opinions online.

According to the same online publication, most of the Internet users' concerns are more practical than philosophical. A total of 45 percent of people taking part in the survey were worried about fraud, while around 63 percent were worried about possible identity theft. Only 13 percent of people studied were anxious about their safety, 18 percent were worried about government data collection and 23 percent were concerned about various online services scraping their data.

According to PC Mag, those Internet users who were previously affected by some kind of privacy or data security issue were more concerned about them than those not experiencing such issues before. The survey has found that security and privacy concerns were more prevalent among households affected during the year prior to the survey by some kind of security breach.

The conclusion of NTIA's study is that money is still the driving factor for most people, even if Edward Snowden's surveillance leaks had a slight impact. The NTIA will conduct further studies in order to understand better the future trends of Internet use.

There is already evidence of a mounting "mistrust" of Internet security and privacy. The researchers believe that the U.S. government should follow policies that encourage confidence, such as requiring a minimum level of privacy protection and pushing for a strong encryption.

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