By Julian Hattem - 04/02/14 12:31 PM EDT
Nearly half the nation's adults changed their behavior online because of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) snooping programs, according to a new poll.
The Harris Interactive survey found that 47 percent of adults were thinking more carefully about what they do, what they say or where they go on the Internet in light of the spying revelations that began emerging last summer.
Many of the results were more exaggerated for young people, ages 18 to 34. A third of people surveyed in that age group said they were doing less shopping online, compared to 26 percent of the public at large.
Stephen Cobb, a senior security researcher at ESET, the data security company that commissioned the poll, wrote in a blog post that the trend was likely to continue as documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden continue to trickle out.
“Whether or not we have seen the full extent of the public’s reaction to state-sponsored mass surveillance is hard to predict, but ... if the NSA revelations continue–and I am sure they will–and if government reassurances fail to impress the public, then it is possible that the trends in behavior we are seeing right now will continue,” he wrote.
The survey did not seem to take into account the effect of recent data breaches at major retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus, which have exposed the data of tens of millions of shoppers.
Documents leaked by Snowden showed that the government had the ability to tap into major Internet company networks as well as undersea fiber cables that allow the Internet to function.