Commentary

People Like Technology, But Privacy Concerns Are Widespread

People around the world believe that new technology including the Internet, social media, and mobile devices has a positive overall impact on their lives, but this belief coexists with widespread anxiety about diminishing privacy. That’s according to a new global survey of 12,002 Internet users in twelve developed and developing countries -- Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the U.S. -- conducted by Microsoft, and published in advance of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

On the positive side, 74% of respondents believed that the Internet and related technologies increased their ability to find cheaper products, while 72% said it has spurred innovation in business, 67% said it has improved education, and 65% thought it improved productivity. Substantial majorities also thought it had a net positive impact on economic opportunity, quality of life, transportation, arts and culture, and their country’s economic competitiveness.

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Respondents were not quite as enthused about its capacity for strengthening social bonds (52%), literacy (50%), personal freedom (50%), political expression (49%), and human rights (45%).

Moving on to the negatives, fully 52% of respondents said they believe technology is having a net negative impact on their ability to maintain privacy, versus 18% who believe it has a net positive impact. Meanwhile, 24% said they believe it has had a net negative impact on their trust in media, versus 30% who said it increased their trust. And 26% said it had a negative impact on personal safety and security, compared to 34% who said it had a positive impact.

Whatever your opinion on its impacts, there is no question that the Internet is growing at a breakneck pace. As of mid-2014 the Internet population stood at just over 3 billion, up from just 361 million Internet users in 2000. In proportional terms, that represents an increase from 5.9% of the world population in 2000 to 42.3% in 2014.

 
1 comment about "People Like Technology, But Privacy Concerns Are Widespread".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, January 19, 2015 at 1:28 p.m.

    Physical location tracking of mobile devices is a very high price for the public to pay in exchange for limited value from a plethora of apps. This is an element that has to be addressed by regulatory. Zombie super cookies are Exhibit #1.

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