Fears over identity theft and financial information have many people cutting back on internet usage.
The US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has just released the results from a survey that show almost half of all Americans are scaling back their internet usage due to fears over cyber security, according to engadget.com.
The survey, collecting data from over 41,000 homes, comes after data breeches and reports of government surveillance on individuals has left many worried about intrusions into their personal lives.
Most of their concerns about using the internet were considered practical, with a resounding 63 percent reporting they were worried about the possibility of identify theft, and 45 percent were concerned about fraudulent activity. Meanwhile, even after reports of government snooping, only 18 percent of the survey respondents were concerned about the government collecting data on their usage.
Twenty-three percent expressed concerns over data collection by online services, and 13 percent admitted they were worried about their safety from online predators.
The survey reports 29 percent of those asked say they avoid using financial services online, such as internet banking, and a surprising 26 percent say they take a pass on shopping online. Almost the same number say they are no longer using social networks platforms, and another 19 percent say they feel they should not offer “controversial” opinions to online sources.
The NTIA said it believed there is already a growing mistrust of internet privacy and a lack of security, but the agency would like to collect more information to understand exactly what is going on with the American public and their concerns about internet usage.
The research team says if the government doesn’t set policies that call for strong data encryption and standards for the minimum level of privacy protection, it runs the risk of doing harm to the “digital economy,” and is likely to hold the entire nation’s economy back.
“Perhaps the most direct threat to maintaining consumer trust is negative personal experience,” said the agency in its report. “But for the Internet to grow and thrive, users must continue to trust that their personal information will be secure and their privacy protected.”