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Survey: More People Trust Google Than The U.S. Gov’t
Privacy survey reveals high degree of distrust among Americans.
According to a new survey from privacy management tool MyLife (above), more people trust Google than the U.S. government with their personal information.
The company conducted four separate Google surveys (each with 1,000 respondents) earlier this month. The question asked was: “Do or would you trust [organization_name] with your information?” Each survey asked about a single entity: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and the government.
Among the four, Google was the “most trusted” and Facebook the least trusted — although no entity scored better than 50 percent.
Other privacy surveys have also shown concern, to varying degrees, or a lack of trust in internet companies or the U.S. I would say that “directionally,” these results are generally consistent with others though their degree varies.
The way that questions are framed and any context can greatly impact the outcome of a survey like this. It’s also the case that the general U.S. public is still in a largely pessimistic mood, tied to the economy among other causes, and that may be reflected in a high degree of distrust and cynicism across the board.
To compare just one recent privacy related survey, SurveyMonkey asked users about search privacy and the right to be forgotten earlier this year. What it found, in response to a different question than asked by MyLife, is that close to 60 percent of respondents were not very concerned about the U.S. government having access to their web search histories.
This is not to dismiss or minimize the MyLife findings but to show instead that there are lots of findings in the market about privacy. That survey also asked respondents to rank which of five major internet companies “care the most” about users’ privacy. Google was the winner, followed by Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and then Twitter.
That’s a very different way to ask a similar version of the MyLife question.
It is fair to say that most Americans are concerned about online privacy in the abstract and generally at a loss to know how to protect their personal information from misuse or abuse — by the government or internet companies. For their part, despite all the rhetoric, major U.S. internet companies have not done a good job of fully explaining privacy in common sense terms or how personal data are used by them.