The Stack Archive

45% of US households curtail internet use

Mon 16 May 2016

A study conducted by the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) found that 45% of online households had security concerns which limited their online activities; from conducting financial transactions, posting on social networks, buying goods, or expressing an opinion that could be considered controversial. 30% of households surveyed held back from activity in two or more of these categories.

The survey, which was conducted by the US Census Bureau for NTIA, gathered information from over 41,000 households on their internet usage and security and privacy concerns. They found that trust was deteriorated the most by negative personal experience – users who had experienced a malicious event such as a security breach or identity theft in the previous 12 months were more likely to curtail their internet activities.

70% of households that reported a security breach reported identity theft as an issue that concerned them the most, compared to 62% who had not reported a breach. A higher percentage of those who reported a breach were concerned about data collection and tracking as well – 30%, compared to 21% of those who had not experienced a breach themselves.

The privacy and security concerns of those surveyed were broken down into several categories. The most prevalent was identity theft, with 63% of households reporting it as a concern – followed by credit card or banking fraud (45%), data collection by online services (23%), loss of control over personal data (22%), data collection by the government (18%), and threats to personal safety (13%).

The study also, unsurprisingly, found a direct correlation between the number of privacy or security concerns that particular person expressed, and the type of internet activity that was curtailed. For example, a household that reported two or more types of privacy concerns were far more likely to curtail financial transactions conducted over the internet than the average. The numbers were even higher for those that had experienced a breach in the previous 12 months. Similarly, households with privacy or security concerns in two or more categories were less likely to buy goods or services, or to post online to social media.

Previously released results from the same survey showed that 75% of all Americans over the age of 3 use the internet regularly, with the fastest growth in the oldest (65 years and up) and youngest (3-14 years) age groups.


analytics cybercrime government news privacy security US
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