In a series of speeches delivered in advance of his State of the Union address, President Obama announced an array of new proposals intended to increase protections for Americans’ privacy and security online. These actions aim to reduce identity theft, improve access to credit scores, and strengthen consumers’ rights to control the way their data and their children’s data are used. Pew Research Center has been studying Americans’ attitudes about their own personal information security and that of their families for years. Here are a few highlights:
91% of American adults say that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.
Those with a college education are more likely than those who have not attended college to “strongly agree” that consumers have lost control, 51% vs. 40%.
The public has little confidence in the security of their everyday communications.
American adults view social media sites as the least secure channel to communicate private information to another trusted person or organization; just 2% view them as “very secure,” while 14% feel “somewhat secure” sharing sensitive information on social media.
By comparison, Americans express the greatest sense of security using landline phones when sharing private information with another trusted entity. However, their level of confidence is still quite low; just 16% of adults say they feel “very secure” sharing private information via the landline phone, while 51% say they feel “somewhat secure.”
Most Americans support greater regulation of how advertisers handle their personal information.
Even as Americans express concern about government access to their data, they feel as though government could do more to regulate what advertisers do with their personal information; 64% believe the government should do more to regulate advertisers, compared with 34% who think the government should not get more involved.
Parents report high levels of concern about advertisers’ access to data about their children’s online activities.
Parents of younger teens are more likely than those with older teens to express some level of concern about the issue of advertisers tracking their child’s online behavior (87% vs. 77%).
See our overview on President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union, and read our related fact sheets on immigration, the economy, and energy and the environment.