Myth: Nobody else cares about privacy!

Date: 22 Feb 2019 Category : | Source: Privacy Mythbusting #1: Nobody else cares about privacy! (Umm, yes they do.) | Author: Graham Penrose

When was the last time you spoke with your friends or family about internet privacy? Sadly, for most people, the answer is never. In general, people believe that only a small percentage of people care about privacy, and while we know that isn’t true, it is something that keeps most people from talking about privacy.

In Jan 2017, the IDC found that 84% of consumers expressed concern for their personal information, and 70% reported greater concern than just a few years ago.And it’s not all talk. Over 20% of people are using tracker blocking software, and many are taking other measures as well. People are taking action.

“Which privacy settings do you adjust on your devices?”

DuckDuckGo surveyed thousands of random US adults in October 2016 and again in May 2017. The polling was done on a random sample of 1,201 (October 2016) and 2,371 (May 2017) American adults (18+) via SurveyMonkey’s “Audience” platform, which ensures the demographic make-up of respondents is representative of the U.S. population. Survey respondents were paid and a confidence level of 95% was used. They were asked:

  1. I use a VPN or proxy my connections to hide my online activity. In October 2016 10.5% (+/-1.7%) said yes, by May 2017 the figure was 11.6% (+/-1.3%)
  2. I install browser add-ons or apps to block web trackers. In October 2016 20.7% (+/-2.3%) said yes, by May 2017 the figure was 21.9% (+/-1.7%)
  3. I use a password manager to set and keep secure passwords. In October 2016 26.1% (+/-2.5%) said yes, by May 2017 the figure was 29.5% (+/-1.8%)
  4. I change my browser’s “Do Not Track” setting to ask websites not to track me. In October 2016 33.1% said yes, by May 2017 the figure was 33.2% (+/-1.9%)

Takeaways

Although the percentages vary according to technical complexity, each of the results shows a significant number of people proactively defending their right to privacy online. One in five respondents try to block the ubiquitous trackers that follow us around the web. This is more notable when we remember that the surveys were aimed at random American adults rather than a purely technical audience.

Also worth noting is that roughly a third of those surveyed have turned on the “Do Not Track” setting in their web browsers. In other words, they are so concerned about privacy that they went looking through their browser settings, seeking out an option that might help them be tracked less. Unfortunately, since this browser setting is voluntary for websites to implement, it has limited effectiveness with companies such as Google and Facebook not respecting it.

What it shows is that the desire to not be tracked isn’t just talk — these are real people taking real privacy actions in a mainstream way.

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