66 percent of respondents to a recent F-Secure survey agreed that they were concerned about their data being exposed to intelligence agencies while using online services, with 57 percent saying they’d be willing to pay to prevent their data from passing through American, Russian or Chinese services and territories.
The survey asked nearly 9000 respondents from 11 different countries — including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Sweden — a series of questions about online privacy and security. Not only were the majority of respondents concerned about their online privacy, but respondents from several countries also agreed that they would switch services to ones more sensitive to their privacy needs.
This trend was most visible amongst American respondents. For example, 55 percent of Americans surveyed said they’ve already changed their online behavior in response to increasing privacy concerns. 59 percent of American respondents agreed that they’d be willing to switch search providers to avoid search-based profiling, compared with the survey average of 54 percent.
Different Concerns for Different Nationalities, but Fewer Swedes Worried about Privacy
French respondents seemed concerned about privacy on mobile and new Internet of Things devices. 72 percent agreed that they’re worried about new Internet-connected devices leading to privacy violations. 63 percent agreed that they avoid using public Wi-Fi due to privacy and security concerns.
Many Germans expressed fears about the surveillance capabilities of intelligence agencies, with 67 percent of German respondents agreeing that they were concerned about intelligence agencies in countries where their data moves through.
However, privacy issues overall seemed to be less of a concern amongst Swedish respondents. There were some notable differences between responses given by Swedes compared with other nationalities. Some of these differences include:
- 25 percent of Swedish respondents agreed that they’ve changed their online behavior in response to increasing privacy concerns, compared with the survey’s average of 54 percent
- 31 percent of respondents from Sweden agreed that they know where their personal data is stored online, compared with the survey’s average of 49 percent
- 46 percent of Swedish respondents agreed that they’re worried about new Internet-connected devices leading to privacy violations, compared with the survey’s average of 69 percent
F-Secure Labs Researcher Mikael Albrecht attributed these differences to Swedes’ perceptions of their country being relatively secure. “Swedes perceive their country as safe and stable, especially when compared to countries like UK, USA and France, which have increased network surveillance aggressively. While Sweden and many of the Nordic countries do enjoy relatively secure environments, this shouldn’t translate into becoming overconfident that their personal data will stay private while being exchanged online.”
There were also some surprising consistencies between countries. An overwhelming 80 percent of respondents agreed that they avoid installing apps asking for unnecessary app permissions. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents said that they avoid using public Wi-Fi due to security and privacy concerns, which is surprising given the effectiveness of using VPNs to protect data when using public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Freedome is a VPN that gives people a hassle-free way to encrypt their communications over public Wi-Fi, change their virtual location to access geo-blocked websites and streaming services and block malicious websites and online tracking attempts. With Freedome’s newest feature called Tracker Mapper, users can see blocked tracking attempts in real time on an informative visual map, helping them gain a better understanding on how they are being tracked online, and by whom.
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*Source: The F-Secure Consumer Values Study 2015 consisted of an online survey of 8,800 age, gender and income-representative respondents from eleven countries, 800 respondents per country: US, UK, France, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, and India. The study was designed together with Informed Intuitions. Data was collected by Toluna Analytics in July 2015.
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