Pew: Almost one-third of Americans have changed habits because of Snowden
Almost one-third of American adults have “taken at least one step to hide or shield their information from the government,” according to a new report published by the Pew Research Center.
This desire to prevent government snooping results from the increasing awareness of mass surveillance programs revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.
Pew’s study suggests that almost 90 percent of American adults have heard something about government surveillance programs. Of those, 34 percent are said to have taken preventative measures such as changing social media privacy settings, uninstalling applications, or speaking in person instead of through the Web.
The study says younger adults under the age of 50 are more likely to have changed their behaviors than their elders. That fits with another study, this one from Rasmussen University, which showed that many millennials are afraid of the Internet.
As I wrote Monday:
Rasmussen College surveyed more than 2,000 adults about their digital literacy. Its findings might surprise those who believe millennials don’t care about the Internet’s continued spread.
‘Around 37 percent of 18-34-year-old respondents said that they find the Internet scary,’ Rasmussen says in its report, ‘And 35 percent admitted they don’t feel safe online.’ That’s more than respondents in the 35-54-year-old and 55-plus-year-old brackets.
I wish Pew would have broken down sentiment about government snooping by age. All the research group said in its report was that 52 percent of Americans take issue with the programs, while 46 percent aren’t as concerned with the surveillance. (The other two percent apparently didn’t fit either of those categories.)
Even without that data, though, I suspect millennials’ fear of the Internet stems at least partly from concerns about digital surveillance programs. We’ve lived most of our lives online, so the government is likely to find all kinds of data through our Facebook pages; grandma’s just reveals a “Candy Crush” fetish.
Either way, Pew’s report shows that a fair percentage of Americans have taken seriously the reports based on Snowden’s documents. Most people aren’t taking action, but some are, and that’s a fair start.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]