Who Do You Trust?

by , Feb 18, 2014, 6:15 AM
  • Comment (3)
  • Recommend (3)
Subscribe to Research Brief
According to a recent Harris Poll, 48% of American adults trust the federal government to handle personal information privately and securely, down from 54% in 2009. Trust in the federal government is highest among those ages 18-34 years old, and lowest among those 55 and older,

This puts the federal government well behind health providers (79%), major online retailers (74%), and banks/brokerage companies (68%), slightly behind small and/or independent online retailers (55%), and on par with state and local governments (52%), and search and portal sites (49%) in terms of American's trust in their handling of personal information in a properly confidential and secure manner. Social networking sites are well behind the federal government, at 28%.

Trusting Organizations To Handle Personal Information

How much trust do you have in each of the following to handle your personally identified information in a properly confidential and secure manner (Base: U.S. adults)

Organization

Trust (net)

A Great Deal of Trust

Some Trust

Don't Trust (net)

Health providers, such as doctors and hospitals

79%

30%

49%

21%

Major online retailers (e.g., Amazon, eBay)

74

22

52

26

Banks and brokerage companies

68

21

47

32

Small and/or independent online retailers

55

6

49

45

State and local governments

52

12

40

48

Search and Portal sites (e.g., Google, Yahoo!)

49

9

40

51

The federal government

48

12

37

52

Social networking

28

5

23

72

Source: Harris Poll, February 2014

It is perhaps not surprising that the vast majority of Americans, (88%), see cyber-criminals as a threat to their privacy, making this group the top threat among all those tested. Social networking sites are the next strongest perceived threat, with 70% perceiving such sites as threats to their privacy, says the report.

What may be more surprising is that the majority of Americans also feel their privacy is threatened by both government agencies (60% federal, 56% state/local), and camera-equipped devices in the hands of their fellow Americans (63% wearable tech devices, 59% phones).

When asked specifically which represents the greatest threat to their privacy, 28% point to the federal government as the greatest threat to their privacy, with men over 50% more likely than women to do so, and a small percentage of Americans (8%), perceive their fellow Americans with access to camera-equipped devices (such as phones or wearable technology) as the greatest threat to their privacy, a sentiment that is roughly twice as pronounced among 18-34 year olds.

Harris Poll President, Mike de Vere, says that “… even within the context of recent reports exposing widespread and previously secret government surveillance programs… (the report noted) that nearly three in ten Americans perceive the federal government as a greater threat to their privacy than cyber-criminals…"

Greatest Perceived Threat To Your Privacy

"Of the following, which do you feel represents the greatest threat to your privacy?" (Base: U.S. adults)

 

2013 Total

Age

Gender

Threat

 

18-34

35-44

45-54

55+

Male

Female

Cyber-criminals

64%

58%

67%

69%

64%

58%

69%

The federal government

28

29

26

26

29

35

22

My fellow Americans with access to camera-equipped devices

8

12

6

6

7

7

9

Source: Harris Poll, February 2014

After reading a description about the upcoming Google Glass product, 61% of Americans think devices like this will take some getting used to but will eventually become more mainstream, much like cell phones, while 33% don't think there will be much interest in devices like this.

But regardless of how Americans feel about whether such devices will find a market, many have concerns about the dangers they could represent. 79% of Americans worry that devices like this are dangerous, in that they will cause hazardous driver and pedestrian distractions, with this fear resonating most strongly among women (85%, vs. 73% among men).

Reflecting privacy concerns, given such devices' ability to surreptitiously capture and share photos, video and audio files, 67% of Americans would be uncomfortable with anyone having such a device in their vicinity, while 51% would be comfortable with even someone they know well and trust doing so. Women are especially sensitive on this topic.

Americans appear conflicted in how they see corporate America, says the report. 75% agree that consumers have lost all control over how personal information is collected and used by companies; 64% agree that most businesses handle the personal information they collect about consumers in a proper and confidential way. 49% believe that existing laws and organizational practices provide a reasonable level of protection for consumer privacy today.

Looking specifically at online data collection practices, 56% of Americans are not comfortable with the practice of websites using information about a person's online activity to customize website content, says the report. A generational divide of sorts appears to be at work though, with those under 45 considerably less likely to express discomfort with this than those 45 and older.

For more information from Harris Interactive, please visit here.

 

3 comments on "Who Do You Trust?".

  1. Kern Lewis from GrowthFocus, Inc.
    commented on: February 18, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.
    Headline s/b: "Whom do you trust." As creators of content, part of your brief is the talent of writing. To aspire to be the best you can possibly be in that craft, you should achieve mastery of grammar! You should lead us, rather than sink (pander?) to the level of our common(ly) spoken English. Set the higher standard and challenge us to meet it. (OK - I will take my soapbox and go back to work. Thanks for reading my plea.)
  2. Daniel Fell from ND&P
    commented on: February 18, 2014 at 10:15 p.m.
    It's good to see healthcare providers at the top of this list but the reality is that trust has been falling even among this group of caring professionals. The business of healthcare has many trade-offs and declining consumer trust is a major barrier to brand loyalty and word of mouth referrals. Great advertising and better customer service will only go so far if trust in the system overall continues to erode.
  3. Jack Loechner from Mediapost Communications
    commented on: February 19, 2014 at 1:45 a.m.
    about that which you speak, Kern... it seemed like the colloquial "... who" was a better selection for the connotation... but OK, I get it...j

Leave a Comment

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now

Recent Research Brief Articles

» Research Brief Archives