NortonLifeLock has released a new report that suggests that Americans don’t necessarily expect the government to protect their personal information. Even though half of the American respondents in the new Cyber Safety Insights Report believe the government could be doing more to protect their privacy, they still assigned more responsibility to individual consumers than they did to the state.
The U.S. was the only country in which that was the case. The survey found that 34 percent of all Americans believe that the individual shoulders the most responsibility for their own privacy, while only 29 percent assign the most responsibility to the government (the figure was 36 percent for private companies).
“Americans are outliers in that they are willing to accept a lot of the responsibility in protecting their own data and personal information,” said NortonLifeLock Cyber Safety Education Chief Paige Hanson. “This could be the year Americans truly embrace their privacy independence, particularly with the help of new regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act giving them control over how their data is used.”
The findings are somewhat anomalous considering that the government actually has the ability to pass and enforce privacy legislation. However, it is worth noting that many Americans (approximately one in six) are worried that their personal information could be used to influence the way they vote, a trend that was observed across party lines. Americans were also more likely to take proactive steps (like avoiding public Wi-Fi) to guard their personal information.
Even so, the vast majority (74 percent) of Americans are highly concerned about their privacy, and a slight majority of both Republicans and Democrats believe that privacy laws in the U.S. currently trail those in other countries. Interestingly, there was also moderate support for facial recognition in law enforcement (67 percent) and schools (65 percent) despite the fact that the majority (68 percent) were afraid that the technology would be misused or abused within the next year.
While individual citizens may have a laissez-faire attitude, many states and municipalities have passed more stringent privacy regulations in the past few years. The California Consumer Privacy Act arrives several years after the Biometric Information Privacy Act in Illinois. The former led Samsung Pay to adjust its terms of service, while the latter has triggered lawsuits against major corporations like Facebook and Google. Those results indicate that legislation has been an effective way to give people more control over their personal information.