Poll: Many concerned over online privacy, but few acting for security

A majority of the global public is concerned about online privacy, but fewer have actually done anything about it, according to a new survey of Internet users around the world.

ADVERTISEMENT

A poll from the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian think tank, found that 64 percent of people said they are more concerned about their privacy online than they were a year ago, and more than three-quarters are concerned about criminals or someone else hacking into their accounts and stealing information. 

Yet just 43 percent said they avoid certain websites because of privacy concerns raised over the last year, and only 39 percent say they change their account information regularly.

Additionally, 60 percent of Web users said they had heard about U.S. intelligence agency leaker Edward Snowden, but only 39 percent of those who knew of him had taken any steps to protect themselves in light of his revelations.

The survey shows the problems some people have with shoring up their digital security, even while expressing concerns about hackers and government spies who have captured headlines over the last year.

While Snowden’s leaks about the National Security Agency might have captured headlines and caused a diplomatic headache for the Obama administration during the summer of 2013, they were not as effective in causing people to change their habits to avoid government snooping. On the heels of the Senate’s inability to pass legislation reforming the NSA last week, the poll paints a grim portrait of the lasting effect of Snowden’s leaks.

The think tank survey was conducted by Ipsos and polled more than 23,000 Internet users in 24 countries this October and November. Countries polled included Japan, Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Brazil and the United States.