Vast majority of Americans think online privacy is lost post-Snowden

13 Nov 2014

A recent study has shown an overwhelming majority of Americans think that consumers have lost control of their personal information online.

Almost all those surveyed by the Pew Research Centre were aware of governmental efforts to monitor their personal communications, with most feeling that their privacy is being challenged along such core dimensions as the security of their personal information and their ability to retain confidentiality.

“Most say they want to do more to protect their privacy, but many believe it is not possible to be anonymous online,” reads the report

“Perhaps most striking is Americans’ lack of confidence that they have control over their personal information. That pervasive concern applies to everyday communications channels and to the collectors of their information – both in the government and in corporations.”

This comes on the back of recent news relating to online security in the UK and US. Last week the new head of the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters Robert Hannigan claimed tech giants unwittingly help foster terrorism around the globe, calling for additional information sharing between state and service. Considering the reality portrayed by Snowden last year, these claims seemed particularly strange.

Then Stewart Baker, a former lawyer for US surveillance behemoth the National Security Agency, claimed encryption was bad, pitting tech companies against governments.

Speaking at the Web Summit in Dublin, Baker, claimed moves by Google and Apple and others to encrypt user data was more hostile to Western intelligence gathering than to surveillance by China or Russia.

All in all it’s quite a confusing time to be a consumer, but Pew’s study shows that the general consensus is a remarkably negative attitude to the availability of privacy online.

Online security image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic