Survey: Most don't feel secure online

Eight in 10 Americans agree that people should be concerned about the government monitoring their phone calls or communication online, according to a new Pew Research report.  

An even larger amount of people — 91 percent — believe they have lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by companies. 

For example, 81 percent say they are concerned about advertisers or other businesses accessing data they share online. Seventy percent are concerned about the government accessing information they share on social media. 


The findings follow revelations in 2013 about secret government surveillance programs after leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Eighty-seven percent have heard at least some information about the surveillance programs, including 44 percent who say they have heard "a lot." Only about 5 percent say they had heard nothing at all. 

"Americans’ lack of confidence in core communications channels tracks closely with how much they have heard about government surveillance program," according to the Pew report. 

Despite the public's overall concern about government surveillance, 64 percent believe the government should do more to regulate advertisers' access to their data online. 

Only about 1 in 4 people believe it is easy to be anonymous online. 

People feel that their information is least secure when they are on social media. A landline telephone gives people the highest feeling of security. 

Eighty-one percent do not feel secure when sharing private information on social media. Sixty-eight percent say the same about instant messaging, while 57 percent say they do not feel secure on email. 

Forty-six percent feel a lack of security when using a cellphone, while 31 percent say the same about a landline. 

The report, released Wednesday, is based on information gathered from online panels and focus groups conducted in January. It was based on an online panel of 607 people, including 26 panelists who took part in more in-depth focus groups. It contains a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.