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Spooked by data breaches, 45% US net users curb online transactions: survey

16 May 2016

Nearly half of US citizens have cut out online activities such as banking or shopping due to security and privacy fears, according to a survey released Friday by a federal telecommunication agency.

According to 45 per cent of households surveyed, security and privacy concerns including identity theft, fraud, data collection, and loss of control of personal data - has discouraged them from conducting online banking and shopping or posting about controversial or political matters on social networks, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) reported.

"NTIA will continue to analyse relevant data, as well as potential policies such as encouraging the widespread deployment of strong encryption and other security measures that could help build trust in the Internet and stimulate the free flow of information and commerce online," reads the report. 

One set of policies the agency referred to were those included in a bill the White House introduced in spring 2015 that sought to give more control to customers over the collection, storage, use, and sharing of their data, the Christian Science Monitor's Passcode, (CSM's section covering online security and privacy) wrote.

According to commentators, the chilling effect, revealed by a poll of 41,000 US households who used the internet, showed the insecurity of the web had led to a fallout much wider than the personal experience of individuals. The  research pointed out that some consumers were reaching a tipping point where they felt they could no longer trust using the internet for everyday activities.

"Every day, billions of people around the world use the Internet to share ideas, conduct financial transactions, and keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues," wrote Rafi Goldberg, a policy analyst at the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, in a blog post introducing the data. "But for the Internet to grow and thrive, users must continue to trust that their personal information will be secure and their privacy protected."

The survey revealed that around 20 per cent of the respondents had personally experienced some form of identity theft, an online security breach, or another similar problem over the year before the survey was taken in July.

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