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Media (R)evolutions: Majority of global citizens are concerned about a lack of privacy online, according to survey

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Individuals are increasingly concerned about their online privacy and security‚ especially regarding ‎how private corporations and governments use and share their personal data, according to the 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and conducted by global research company Ipsos.  

A clear majority of global citizens are concerned (79%) that their personal data is available and monitored online. Even more (83%) believe that there need to be new rules about how companies‚ governments and other users use personal data, and 85% believe their government should work in closely with other governments and organizations to ensure better Internet security and safety.

However, the results of the survey also find that most individuals (70%) approve of law enforcement accessing private online conversations if they have national security reasons to do so, and if they are investigating someone suspected of a crime, 85% responded that governments should be able to find out who their suspects are communicating with online.

More contentious is the idea of whether companies should be allowed to develop technologies that prevent law enforcement from accessing the content of an individual’s online conversations. On this issue, 63% agree that companies should not develop this technology.

The following graph is just one of many presented in the survey’s findings. It demonstrates that most are concerned that too much of their personal information is available online, leading to worries about privacy. Moreover, similar numbers of people are concerned that they are being actively monitored online by governments or other organizations.

Source: 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust

When asked about online privacy‚ a majority of people worldwide (57%) were more concerned about their online privacy in 2016 compared to one year ago‚ with only a minority (38%) trusting that their activities on the Internet were not monitored and less than half (46%) trusting that their activity online were not being censored.

Only 30% of respondents agreed that their own government is currently doing enough to keep personal information secure and safe from private companies‚ and, likewise, only 31% agreed that private companies are doing enough to keep personal information secure and safe from governments. This demonstrates a serious lack of trust in both public and private organizations.

In response to these concerns, most (83%) claim to have changed their online behavior, ranging from minor changes such as avoiding opening emails from unknown email addresses (55%) to more substantial changes such as doing fewer financial transactions (23%) or even using the Internet less often (11%), in an effort to control the amount of personal information that is being shared online.

The survey also found that while most citizens around the world express concern over their personal information being bought or sold online, only about half (49%) of them are aware that companies providing free online services (like Google) often sell personal data to governments and other companies, highlighting a lack of awareness.

The 2016, reached 24,143 Internet users in 24 countries, and was carried out between November 20, 2015 and December 4, 2015. The countries included: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

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