In post-Edward Snowden America, almost two years after the whistleblowing of a highly secret domestic mass surveillance program, 65 percent of adults in the country say limitations on the Internet and phone data—which government agencies can gather about them as part of government efforts against terrorism—are not adequate, according to a new Pew report on privacy, surveillance and security.
Only 25 percent are "somewhat confident" and a mere 6 percent are "very confident" that government agencies could have their personal information secure and private, based on a survey by the Pew Research Center.
These are the third and latest findings in a sequence of privacy-focused researches directed by Pew in the wake of the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks, which revealed that UK and U.S. security forces had access to and collected individuals' private Internet and phone call information without permission, sparking criticism from the security and technology industries.
Many Americans demonstrate an absence of trust in online advertisers: 76 percent of respondents say they are "not at all confident" or "not too confident" that details of their Internet activity would remain secure or private with marketing firms.
The survey revealed how Americans are greatly concerned about who controls the entities accessing their private data and who monitors them.
Ninety-three percent of American adults declare, "being in control of who can get information about them is important," while 90 percent insist that controlling what data is being collected is important as well, according to the survey.
Meanwhile, 88 percent say it is important they are not listened in or watched on without their permission, and half of adults believe advertisers using the Internet should not be able to trace their online activities.
Only 40 percent of those surveyed say social media sites and search engines should not track their activity, with 44 percent stating the same of video sites.
Despite fears about the collection of private information, tracking and surveillance, few Americans are taking additional steps to secure themselves in the post-Snowden era.
Only 10 percent of adults say they encrypt their emails, phone calls or texts, and only 9 percent use tools such as Tor software or proxy servers to obscure their online activities.
However, more Americans use simpler methods: 59 percent clear browser history or cookies; 57 percent refuse to give information to organizations or companies when it is not applicable to the deal; and 24 percent give false information.
Temporary email addresses and usernames are used by 25 percent of respondents, while 23 percent simply choose not to use a service or website that demands a real name—a measure employed by social networks and websites in an effort to curtail abuse and the sending of spam emails.
Photo: Yuri Samoilov | Flickr