Privacy Fears Undermine Internet Trust – Report

Global netizens are more concerned about their privacy than they were a year ago, and few believing governments can be trusted to keep their personal information safe, according to a new independent study.

Canada-based thinktank the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) commissioned Ipsos to interview over 24,000 internet users across the globe on their attitudes to privacy and the like.

It found global trust in online services on the wane – 57% were more worried about their privacy than a year ago, while only 38% said they could trust that their activities in cyberspace were not being monitored.

Likewise, fewer than half (47%) said they could trust that their online activity was not being censored.

Trust in public and private bodies to keep personal data safe and secure is also at an all-time low.

Just 30% of respondents claimed governments are doing enough on this front, while a similar number (31%) said the same for private companies.

Given this growing uncertainty and doubt, it’s perhaps not surprising that 83% of those interviewed claimed to have changed their online behavior in a bid to better protect their privacy.

This includes things like avoiding opening emails from unknown email addresses (55%), doing fewer financial transactions (23%), or even using the internet less frequently (11%).

CIGI said the findings highlight the pressing need for multi-stakeholder dialog on how to create greater trust online.

“Internet users are expressing a clear lack of trust in the current set of rules and, more importantly, in the actors that oversee the sharing and use of personal data online,” said Fen Hampson, director of CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program.

“There is an overwhelming consensus among respondents that the internet is everyone’s issue, and that no single actor or institution is absolved of responsibility or can be trusted more than others in the pursuit of its effective governance.”

Online privacy has never been more high profile, with controversy surrounding Privacy Shield, the replacement for EU-US data sharing framework Safe Harbor.

Also, last week the EU General Data Protection Regulation passed its final regulatory hurdle and will come into force on 4 May 2018.

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