The GovLab Index: Privacy and Security

Please find below the latest installment in The GovLab Index series, inspired by the Harper’s Index. “The GovLab Index: Privacy and Security examines the attitudes and concerns of American citizens regarding online privacy. Previous installments include Designing for Behavior ChangeThe Networked Public, Measuring Impact with Evidence, Open Data, The Data Universe, Participation and Civic Engagement and Trust in Institutions.


  • Percentage of people who feel the Internet is eroding their personal privacy: 56%
  • Internet users who feel comfortable sharing personal data with an app: 37%
  • Number of users who consider it important to know when an app is gathering information about them: 70%
  • How many people in the online world use privacy tools to disguise their identity or location: 28%, or 415 million people
  • Country with the highest penetration of general anonymity tools among Internet users: Indonesia, where 42% of users surveyed use proxy servers
  • Percentage of China’s online population that disguises their online location to bypass governmental filters: 34%

In the United States

Over the Years

  • In 1996, percentage of the American public who were categorized as having “high privacy concerns”: 25%
    • Those with “Medium privacy concerns”: 59%
    • Those who were unconcerned with privacy: 16%
  • In 1998, number of computer users concerned about threats to personal privacy: 87%
  • In 2001, those who reported “medium to high” privacy concerns: 88%
  • Individuals who are unconcerned about privacy: 18% in 1990, down to 10% in 2004
  • How many online American adults are more concerned about their privacy in 2014 than they were a year ago, indicating rising privacy concerns: 64%
  • Number of respondents in 2012 who believe they have control over their personal information: 35%, downward trend for 7 years
  • How many respondents in 2012 continue to perceive privacy and the protection of their personal information as very important or important to the overall trust equation: 78%, upward trend for seven years
  • How many consumers in 2013 trust that their bank is committed to ensuring the privacy of their personal information is protected: 35%, down from 48% in 2004

Privacy Concerns and Beliefs

  • How many Internet users worry about their privacy online: 92%
    • Those who report that their level of concern has increased from 2013 to 2014: 7 in 10
    • How many are at least sometimes worried when shopping online: 93%, up from 89% in 2012
    • Those who have some concerns when banking online: 90%, up from 86% in 2012
  • Number of Internet users who are worried about the amount of personal information about them online: 50%, up from 33% in 2009
    • Those who report that their photograph is available online: 66%
      • Their birthdate: 50%
      • Home address: 30%
      • Cell number: 24%
      • A video: 21%
      • Political affiliation: 20%
  • Consumers who are concerned about companies tracking their activities: 58%
    • Those who are concerned about the government tracking their activities: 38%
  • How many users surveyed felt that the National Security Association (NSA) overstepped its bounds in light of recent NSA revelations: 44%
  • Respondents who are comfortable with advertisers using their web browsing history to tailor advertisements as long as it is not tied to any other personally identifiable information: 36%, up from 29% in 2012
  • Percentage of voters who do not want political campaigns to tailor their advertisements based on their interests: 86%
  • Percentage of respondents who do not want news tailored to their interests: 56%
  • Percentage of users who are worried about their information will be stolen by hackers: 75%
    • Those who are worried about companies tracking their browsing history for targeted advertising: 54%
  • How many consumers say they do not trust businesses with their personal information online: 54%
  • Top 3 most trusted companies for privacy identified by consumers from across 25 different industries in 2012: American Express, Hewlett Packard and Amazon
    • Most trusted industries for privacy: Healthcare, Consumer Products and Banking
    • Least trusted industries for privacy: Internet and Social Media, Non-Profits and Toys
  • Respondents who admit to sharing their personal information with companies they did not trust in 2012 for reasons such as convenience when making a purchase: 63%
  • Percentage of users who say they prefer free online services supported by targeted ads: 61%
    • Those who prefer paid online services without targeted ads: 33%
  • How many Internet users believe that it is not possible to be completely anonymous online: 59%
    • Those who believe complete online anonymity is still possible: 37%
    • Those who say people should have the ability to use the Internet anonymously: 59%
  • Percentage of Internet users who believe that current laws are not good enough in protecting people’s privacy online: 68%
    • Those who believe current laws provide reasonable protection: 24%


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply