Only About Half of Americans Say They Trust the Internet

May 5, 2017

This article is included in these additional categories:

Digital | Financial Services | Government & Politics | Privacy & Security | Search Engine Optimization

The internet’s development has had a transformative effect on consumers and industries, but it hasn’t engendered much trust along the way. In fact, just 53% of adults in the US say they generally trust the internet, according to results from a Centre for International Governance Innovation survey. Globally, the result wasn’t much better, with just 56% saying that overall, they trust the internet.

Interestingly, respondents around the world place more trust in ISPs (66%), online and mobile banking platforms (65%) and search engines (61%) than they do the internet in general.

The biggest reason people don’t trust the internet is because they believe it’s not secure (65%) or reliable (40%), per the report. Additionally, almost 30% believe that the internet is controlled by corporate elites, by their government, by foreign governments and/or does not allow for private communications.

In response, users are altering their online behavior primarily by disclosing less personal information (49%), taking greater care to secure their devices (40%) and using the internet more selectively (40%). Only a small fraction of users resort to using the internet less often (12%) or incorporating technological tools (11%) to combat the issue, though.

Security Concerns Limit App Use

Security concerns also influence users when they interact with online applications. Among those who don’t trust the internet, actions taken include limiting the types (26%) and number (23%) of applications they use, as well as how much (20%) they use them. Other research has similarly found that privacy concerns have led to action around mobile apps: half reported having deleted an app due to such concerns, with many (38%) also having stopped using one.

Online Privacy Fears Rise

A corresponding unease about online privacy is also prevalent around the world. Some 56% of North Americans agree to being more concerned about their privacy on the internet, compared to a year ago, which is right around the 55% total global average. These figures show a slight increase over the previous year’s survey results, when 53% of North Americans said they were more concerned about their online privacy.

About the Data: The report is based on a survey of approximately 1,000 individuals in 24 countries for a total of 24,225 people, weighted to match the population in each country surveyed. In the US and Canada, respondents were aged 18-64, whereas respondents were aged 16-64 in all other countries.

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