People Want Online Privacy — They Just Don’t Want To Do Anything About It

Most people are concerned about online privacy, but most people are also not doing anything to protect their personal information. That is what a recent international survey from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think tank, suggests.

According to CIGI, 64 percent of respondents said they are more concerned about online privacy and the security of their personal information now than they were a year ago. Further, nearly 80 percent said they were concerned about criminals and hackers accessing their personal bank accounts and/or stealing personal information through their online accounts.

With so much concern over online privacy, one would expect people to take whatever necessary actions are required to protect sensitive information. CIGI found that this is not the case for everyone.

CIGI asked respondents if they have heard of Edward Snowden; 60 percent said yes. Despite knowledge of the NSA scandal, however, only 39 percent of these respondents said they have taken steps to protect their privacy and security online. Only 43 percent of respondents avoid websites that have raised privacy concerns and 39 percent change their passwords regularly.

Interestingly enough, nearly 40 percent of respondents admitted to sharing personal information with private companies and say “it’s no big deal.” So, there seems to be a prevalent notion that though we want privacy online, we don’t want to be responsible for ensuring it.

People need to realize something about privacy in the digital age. We demand measures be taken to enhance our privacy online, but we share everything about our personal lives on social networking sites like Facebook. There is a paradox here.

Even before the rise of social media, a person’s privacy depended on how much they wanted to share with people and how important keeping certain things private was to them. Things have not changed. Though it is easier to access information, personal privacy is still the responsibility of the individual.

If people want to share information online, they should know there is a chance that some hacker somewhere could gain access to it. There are a couple of ways to keep sensitive information secure:

  1. People can choose not to put information they want private on their online profiles, or
  2. They can take steps to keep their information safe — like updating their security settings every now and then or avoiding certain websites.

It is reasonable to be concerned over online privacy — especially in the wake of revelations that the U.S. government is spying on its own citizens and people around the world through surveillance and data collection programs. However, it is not reasonable to be concerned about privacy and then do nothing about it.

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