Consumers Sacrificing Privacy for Convenience

By: Robert Siciliano  |  May 5, 2015


It’s hard to believe that, according to a recent poll from the Pew Research Center, most Americans aren’t too upset that the government can track their e-mails and phone calls. There’s too much of a blasé attitude, it seems, with people thinking, “I don’t care if I’m monitored; I have nothing to hide.”

This blows it for those of us who actually DO mind that the government is snooping around in our communications, even if we’re as innocent as a butterfly.

Privacy experts believe that governmental monitoring of online activities is just such a fixed part of Americans’ lives that we’ve come to accept it. But privacy experts are pushing for an increased awareness of the importance of digital privacy, and this begins with the U.S. masses putting out some demands for privacy.

An article on points out that as long as Americans are sitting pretty with cheap and easy-to-use Internet experiences, nothing much will change. “People are very willing to sacrifice privacy for convenience,” states Aaron Deacon, as quoted in the article. He manages a group that explores issues pertaining to Internet use.

The article says that Pew’s research reveals that since the NSA revelation, 20 percent of Americans have become more privacy-conscious in a variety of easy ways like using a private web browser.

But most Americans shy away from the more complicated privacy protection methods. Furthermore, some people don’t even know of the extent of governmental monitoring.

Nevertheless, ease of use has made people complacent. Who wants to hassle around with encryption, decoding, coding, etc.? This stuff is great for techy people but not the average user.

The good news is that there is somewhat of a revolution geared towards making privacy methods less intimidating to Joe and Jane User. It just won’t happen overnight, but the market is “emerging,” says Deacon in the article.

Theoretically, if everyone turned techy overnight or privacy protection instantly became as easy as two plus two, this would make unhappy campers out of the businesses that flourish from tracking users’ online habits. The government wouldn’t be smiling, either, as it always wants to have fast access (e.g., “backdoor”) to electronic communications: the first communication choice of terrorists.

Thus far it seems that people have two choices: a fast, easy, cheap Internet experience that gives up privacy, or a techy, expensive, confusing experience that ensures privacy. The first choice is currently winning by miles.

Forewarned is forearmed. Pay attention. This is getting real.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to discussing  identity theft prevention.

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