Security

Pew Research Center’s, “Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information”

TL;DR

In the Pew Research Center’s article, “Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information,” the authors explore, using detailed percentages based on sureys, the current state of the American public’s knowledge, approval, and willingness to comply with the various methods of personal data collection, storage, and use. Through the surveyed-Americans, the articles find that 81% reported they feel they have little/no control of their data collected and stored by companies. In comparison, a staggering 84% felt that they have little/no control of their data collected and stored by the government. Furthermore, while 97% of surveyed-Americans agree that they are asked to approve submitted privacy policies, only 9% of them report that they read them. Regarding what is done with collected-data, “Roughly 80% of Americans think the risks of companies collecting data about them outweigh the benefits (Pew Research Center, 2019).” Armed with this knowledge, cybersecurity professionals will have a better understanding of both sides of the social engineering war, offense, and defense, further aiding our mission of protecting our user and organization’s data.

Americans, now more than ever, are bringing to light their frustrations and concerns over the security of their personal information, as well as what businesses do with it. Too often than not, we find ourselves living in such a data-intensive society that practically has a camera on us 24/7, as it would seem to many. Pew Research Center’s article, “Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information,” by Brooke Auxier, Lee Rainie, Monica Anderson, Andrew Perrin, Madhu Kumar, and Erica Turner, perfectly captures our fears about the current state of Internet privacy. In cybersecurity, one must understand the general public’s thoughts on the safety of their personal information and find out how much they really know about the vast amount of data that gets collected; by doing this, we can better understand how to social engineer our targets, or improve our user training in defending against the same tactics.

I chose this article due to the authors’ decisive purpose of their work, sharing the current state of the American citizen’s outlook on data collection and privacy; this is a continuously-heated argument with no clear end in sight. The purpose of this article was accomplished due to providing an abundant amount of data which correlates the authors’ opinions in a fact-based manner, all while presenting the material in an easy to comprehend format due to using various images and graphs to demonstrate the data. Reading this article can indeed make the world a better place by shedding light on the dark realm that is data collection and surveillance, both in the professional and personal realms, all while ensuring that no gaps in data are allowed. Only by presenting each sector of data, no matter the effect it would have on a specific business or government entity, can we fully grasp the material presented in this article. Unfiltered and uncensored material makes for an excellent learning experience.

                As usual, the Pew Research Center’s use of data analytics provides a compelling look into the ongoing mental war between the corporations and organizations that record, collect, share, and sell the general public’s data, and the fearful everyday citizen who is often unaware of the vast 1’s and 0’s that exist in their digital self. Per the article, the majority of Americans are beginning to feel how minuscule the control of their data is. 81% of surveyed-Americans reported they feel they have little/no control of their data collected and stored by companies. In comparison, a staggering 84% felt that they have little/no control of their data collected and stored by the government (Pew Research Center, 2019). Often, in the debate of Internet privacy, corporations like to address the fact that they typically ask for your agreement to collect your data, but as we all know, actually reading that fine print is often skipped. While 97% of surveyed-Americans agree that they are asked to approve submitted privacy policies, only 9% of them report that they read them (Pew Research Center, 2019).

                The lack of trust American’s feel towards their robot overlords spills into the question, does all of this data really help anything? “Roughly 80% of Americans think the risks of companies collecting data about them outweigh the benefits (Pew Research Center, 2019).” While there are some apparent benefits of collecting data, such as disease research, every time a cyberattack or breach occurs, any remaining positive outlook on personal information collection subsides. I believe the most significant reason for the undeniable fear that Americans feel about data collection is merely not truly understanding what is done to collect it, and what organizations can then do with it. In fact, only about 3% of surveyed-Americans felt that they understand existing data protection laws (Pew Research Center, 2019).

                As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility, right? We cannot ignore the abundance of capabilities that big data holds, such as the government using the personal information on the Internet to search for and assess terrorist threats; however, where does the line get drawn? Should social media sites be allowed to scan posts for signs of depression? 49% of surveyed-Americans support the government’s use of data collection when regarding terrorists, yet only 27% believe social media sites should use the same power in scanning for signs of troublesome mental states (Pew Research Center, 2019). Many would say that one of the government’s dreams for quite some time would be to simply install a wiretap in every U.S. home; while this seems ridiculous, smart speakers, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, have not only fulfilled the government’s desire, but it has been accomplished willingly. Only 25% of surveyed-Americans reported that they feel that smart speaker audio recordings should be shared with law enforcement in the event of a criminal investigation (Pew Research Center, 2019). The staggering facts in this article identifying the general public’s growing concern with the state of surveillance all point to one eventual point in history; the day that this gradually-filling cup of despair towards our Internet freedom overflows, leading to a cyber-revolution.

Reference

Auxier, B., Rainie, L., Anderson, M., Perrin, A., Kumar, M., & Turner, E. (2019, December 31). 3. Public knowledge and experiences with data-driven ads. Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/11/15/public-knowledge-and-experiences-with-data-driven-ads/.

Hadnagy, C., & Wozniak, S. (2018). Social Engineering; The Science of Human Hacking (2nd ed.). Newark: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

 

 

Categories: Security

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