A new survey has suggested that American internet users are more worried about their online privacy and security than they were a year ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the focus of much of this concern was aimed at new President Donald Trump and his administration.
As we have reported previously, a number of key cabinet appointments have previously spoken out against established privacy positions. And equally, the initial actions of President Trump since taking office will not have inspired much confidence in those who value their online privacy.
AnchorFree survey results
The new survey has been undertaken by AnchorFree, the parent company behind Hotspot Shield VPN. They have quizzed more than a thousand users of the Hotspot Shield service and found that a remarkable 84% of respondents said they were more concerned about their online privacy and security than a year previously.
Now not all of those respondents may feel that way directly because of the new Presidential administration in the USA, but given the significant numbers saying they are more concerned, it seems likely that it will at least be a factor in the thinking of most of them.
Not just Trump
Indeed, the responses to some other questions indicate a range of other concerns that people felt. 50% of respondents said they were more worried about their privacy online because of the growth in the number of connected devices and Internet of Things appliances which contain some amount of personal data and information.
And 49% of respondents said one of the reasons they were more worried about their online security was the spate of high-profile security breaches which have been making headlines in the USA, and indeed across the world, such as the one that Yahoo! fell victim to last year.
But the Trump administration is still the biggest single factor people raised specifically. According to AnchorFree’s data, 64% of respondents specified that the reason they were more concerned about the privacy of their personal information was the new Presidential administration.
Why the concern?
At a time when the media seems to be attacking Trump over all manner of controversial decisions, it is perhaps surprising that his relatively low-level undermining of online privacy rights to date has resonated so much with people. It may just be that a certain demographic of the population is concerned about the impact the new President will have on every walk of life.
By comparison, the verified hacks by Russian cyber-criminals in the US have not raised so many concerns, with just 36% of respondents stated that state cyber attacks were a concern, but private companies harvesting and selling personal data is a worry to 52% of people responding, and this is something Trump seems to be in favour of.
This data has been collected from existing VPN subscribers and this is, by definition, a group of people who are already well aware of the threats that exist to online security and privacy, as well as the fact that using a VPN is the best way to protect themselves.
This fact might influence their answers to an extent, but the strength of concern suggests these figures are likely to be reflected across the US. The Trump administration is causing shockwaves around the world, but its true impact on online security and privacy in the US is yet to become clear.