Privacy, American-Style: Most People Are Worried, Republicans More Than Democrats

Sorry to have to tell you this: It’s time to sober up.  

Americans are very concerned about their privacy, and they trust business less than they trust government, judging by How Americans View Data Privacy, a study by Pew Research Center.  

Republicans are more worried than Democrats -- with the percentage rising from 63% who were concerned in 2019 to 77% this year. In contrast, 65% of Democrats are concerned -- down slightly from 66% in 2019.  

But people on both sides support more legislation on how consumer data is used, including 68% of Republicans and 78% of Democrats.  

Overall, 67% have no idea what companies are doing with their data, up from 59% four years ago.  

Moreover, 81% are concerned about how companies use the data they collect on them, while 71% say the same about the government. 

But 79% say they have little or no control over what the government collects, versus 73% for companies. And 77% have little understanding of what the government collects.  



Yet for all that, 56% say they usually skip reading privacy policies and simply agree to them. And 22% sometimes do so. 

Of those familiar with AI, 81% say it will be used to collect and analyze personal information in ways they are not comfortable with, and 80% fear data will be used in ways that were not originally intended. 

On the other hand, 62% say AI could make people’s lives easier. 

Meanwhile, 78% trust themselves to make the right decisions about their personal information, with that percentage rising to 80% among people with college+. But 61% overall are skeptical that anything they do will make much difference, including 70% of the college+ cohort.  

Consumers are also flummoxed by passwords. They say they: 

  • Feel overwhelmed by the amount of passwords they have to keep track of — 69%
  • Generally create passwords that are easier to remember, even if they may be less secure — 46%
  • Feel anxious about whether the passwords they use are strong and secure — 45% 

Few Americans trust social media executives — 77% have little or no faith in those leaders publicly admitting mistakes and taking responsibility for data misuse. And 71% doubt that government will hold tech leaders responsible.   

In one unnerving finding, 26% say someone has put fraudulent charges on their credit card in the prior 12 months.  

Roughly one-quarter of Americans (26%) say someone has put fraudulent charges on their debit or credit card in the last 12 months. And 11% have had their email or social media accounts hacked — a figure that rises to 20% among Black Americans. 

Pew surveyed 5,101 U.S. adults from May 15 to 21, 2023. The study was authored by Colleen McClain, Michelle Faverio, Monica Anderson and Eugenie Park. 


1 comment about "Privacy, American-Style: Most People Are Worried, Republicans More Than Democrats".
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  1. Jonathan May from HorseTV Global, October 18, 2023 at 5:05 p.m.

    I'm surprised these numbers aren't HIGHER. 

    The millenials at tech companies have no compunction about violating anyone's privacy.  With just a person's name ANYONE can find out where you live, your email address, telephone, relatives, neighbors, places you ahve lived previously, where you shop, where you eat, I can get a picture of your house, see what kind of car you drive, and if your home has ever been on the market, I can tour every room in your house and take screen shots as well. How violating and intrusive is that?  And anyone with a computer can do it. A 5 year old can look through your house and share it with his friends.

    People think of Amazon as a merchandise company- WRONG.  They are a data comapny selling everything they can find out about you.

    When Amazon decided to get into the pharmacy business, I called a number to get just a price on a prescription.  Their system played 20 questions with me, and then asked "Do you want your prescription request to be merged with your medical records?"  HOW THE FUDGE does Amazon have access to my personal medical records?

    There should be ZERO trust in the ability of ANY company to secure your personal information and not sell it to the highest bidder.

    Verizon markets a "location device" wrapped around Mom on the side of a country road with the radiator of the car boiling over and 2 kids in the background, and tells you it offers "peace of mind" for loved ones.  IT'S A TRACKING DEVICE and it can collect data on where you go, which businesses you shop at, how many times a week you go there, how long you stay and "Viola" coupons appear for the stores you shop at...what a coincidence.  It's NOT a safety device, it tracks everything you do, and then sells the data to merchants for a revenue stream where you're the product.  Dad's in for a rude surprise when the wife finds out he spends 3 hours every Wednesday, at the Holiday Inn in the next town over.

    The tech millennials who gave your privacy away, think it's "cool."  They have little concern for any shred of privacy you might hope to keep for yourself.

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