According to a recent report from Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans (rightfully) believe that there is no longer any such thing as anonymity on the Internet.
While I’ve gotten into plenty of heated conversations regarding the merits of iOS and Android, a few of which almost deteriorated into a punch up, none of those conversations were had with someone so foolish as to suggest that we are anonymous on the Internet.
Over 58 percent of those polled agree that it is no longer possible to stay entirely anonymous on the Web, while over 85 percent have gone out of their way to erase their prior travels through cyberspace. This includes the scrubbing of cookies, the encryption of emails, using false names, cloaking IP addresses, and more. Over 50 percent acknowledged that they have gone even further to avoid the attention of hackers and other malcontents.
“People would like control over their information. In many cases it is very important to them that only they or the people they authorize should be given access to such things as the content of their emails, the people to whom they are sending emails, the place where they are when they are online, and the content of the files they download,” the research firm said.
This shows an increase over recent years, and possibly a recent uptick as Edward Snowden showed a number of people that their information is widely being shared. That or just common sense. Kids, altruists though they often are, showed the most prevailing belief that the Internet should be anonymous. However, those with higher levels of education seemed more concerned with regards to their privacy.
And such concerns appear to be on the rise. Half of Internet users polled by Pew said they were worried about their online privacy, up from 33 percent who agreed with that sentiment in September 2009.
“Asked whether they think current privacy laws provide reasonable protections for people’s privacy in their online activities, 66 percent of all adults said the laws are ‘not good enough,'” Pew said. About 24 percent said legal safeguards in place provide reasonable protection.
Somewhat surprisingly, less than 5 percent surveyed admitted to being worried about law enforcement and government more than criminals, marketers, and exes.
“This reinforces the notion that privacy is not an all-or-nothing proposition for Internet users,” the firm said. “People choose different strategies for different activities, for different content, to mask themselves from different people, at different times in their lives.”