A new survey from the nonprofit advocacy group Center for Responsive Politics suggests the majority of Americans have no idea what data is in their email inboxes, and most do not even know how to configure them.
“Americans are very frustrated by the lack of data security,” says the report, released today.
“They’re just not aware that they have an expectation of privacy when it comes to information they receive, and they’re not aware how to control it.
It’s one of the most concerning things I’ve seen in this election.”
In the survey, 1,000 Americans between 18 and 34 responded.
The survey found that almost half (47 percent) of respondents said they either did not have an email password or did not know what email password was required for their email account.
And only 14 percent of respondents knew that they had the option to disable or delete data that was stored on their phone.
“Most Americans think they have a right to control their own personal information, and yet most do nothing to protect their own data when it gets into the wrong hands,” says Mark MacDougall, senior director of the Center for Accountability and Civic Trust, which is co-sponsoring the report.
“When it comes down to it, the American public is largely unaware of the ways they can exercise their rights to control and control their data.”
It’s not just Americans who are clueless.
A whopping 78 percent of Americans polled said they did not trust their government to be doing enough to protect personal data, with 47 percent saying they “don’t trust the government to take any action to protect privacy.”
Nearly a third (32 percent) said they have no trust in the government for protecting their data.
A large majority (60 percent) believe the federal government is taking steps to increase data protection, but a small number (12 percent) do not.
Only 28 percent of those surveyed said they had a “very unfavorable” view of the federal Government’s ability to protect data.
And a mere 13 percent of people said they would prefer the federal governments data practices to those of a private company.
“This is the most frustrating time in history for Americans,” says MacDougor.
“The most important thing we can do right now is get people to understand the importance of data privacy.
The more people understand that, the more they’ll vote.”
The poll found that 62 percent of voters said they were worried about how the data they sent to and received from friends and family would be used.
And 58 percent said they worried about the privacy of the data sent to them.
And while 60 percent of the respondents said that “data is more important than privacy,” only 38 percent said that personal data was more important.
And when asked if they would use data to get information about a political candidate or issue, only 39 percent said yes.
MacDougalls study suggests Americans are becoming more concerned about privacy in general, and data protection in particular, with the election approaching.
“There’s no question that this is the height of partisanship and it is very dangerous for our country,” MacDougals report said.
“It’s time for the American people to come together and say: We can’t trust these institutions to protect us.”
The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, DC, also released a report this week that found the Federal Trade Commission has taken over $3 billion in taxpayer funds in 2016, which it is currently running out of.
It estimates the FTC’s budget for 2017 will be around $3.5 billion, and that this could lead to a total bill of $5.6 billion.
The FTC’s annual budget is only a fraction of the overall spending on lobbying and other government agencies in the U.S. The report also found that the FTC is “in the process of negotiating an additional $6 billion for 2017.”
The commission says the agency is “making progress” on a bill to address data privacy, but MacDougons report suggests the bill is “a long way from being passed.”