A clear majority of U.S. adults (81%) now believe the potential risks they face from companies' data collection outweigh the benefits.
That’s according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, which included responses from 4,272 U.S. adults.
About the same share of respondents (79%) reported being concerned about the way their data is used by companies. They feel they have very little or no control over the data that's collected.
Worse, a distinct minority of U.S. adults trust companies to be honest with them about data breaches, or refrain from abusing their access to data.
In fact, 79% of Americans said they are not too confident or not at all confident that companies will admit mistakes, or take responsibility if they misuse or compromise personal information, while 69% reported having this same lack of confidence that firms will use their personal information in ways they would be comfortable with.
When asked whether they think their personal data is less secure, more secure or about the same as it was five years ago, 70% of adults said their personal data is less secure, while a mere 6% reported that they believe their data is more secure today than it was in the past.
“When it comes to privacy in the digital age, many Americans are concerned, confused and not fully convinced that the current systems of tracking and monitoring them bring more benefits than risk,” Lee Rainie, director of research for internet and technology at Pew Research Center, notes in the new report.
To a large expect, consumers now believe all of their digital activity is subject to third-party tracking.
Indeed, 72% reported feeling that all, almost all or most of what they do online or while using their cellphone is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies.
Americans only appear to have a general awareness of their data profiles. Per Pew, 77% of Americans say they have heard or read at least a bit about how companies and other organizations use personal data to offer targeted ads or special deals, or to assess how risky people might be as customers.