Results of Consumer Data Privacy Survey Reveal Critical Need for All Digital Citizens to Participate in Data Privacy Day

Poll results indicate that 84% of Americans feel a "tremendous amount" of personal responsibility in protecting their online privacy but a lack of information about how their data is collected and shared by others prevents them from taking action.

Jan 28, 2015, 08:00 ET from National Cyber Security Alliance

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) launches Data Privacy Day with the release of "Perceptions of Privacy Online and in the Digitally Connected World," an extensive, national, two-phase survey of American adults analyzing consumer perceptions of online privacy as well as the need for companies to implement strong data stewardship. NCSA, the nation's leading non-profit promoting cyber safety awareness and online privacy protection, assumes a leadership role in the United States for Day Privacy Day, which is an annual, international effort centered on "Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust." Now in its eighth year, the day aims to help consumers understand how to protect their online information and encourage businesses to be more transparent in how they collect and use the data.

"The first phase of this highly comprehensive study dug deep into consumer attitudes toward privacy. Then, based on the research findings, a group of privacy experts put the results into action by developing and testing harmonized messaging that would resonate with consumers and inspire them to take simple, concrete steps to protect their data and manage their privacy," said Michael Kaiser, executive director of NCSA. "In short, what this study shows is that Americans care deeply about their privacy. While a great knowledge gap exists about how information is collected and how technologies interact, businesses can build consumer trust by being clear about data collection and use. As we become more and more reliant on technology, it is crucial to effectively educate everyone about how to be safer and more secure online."

Conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies, the survey was created by NCSA and a Privacy Messaging Development Committee comprised of 35+ members of civil-society, non-profits, government and industry. A snapshot of key study findings includes:  

Top Online Privacy Concerns

  • Americans ranked "Having personal information lost or stolen," "Having your financial information lost or stolen" and "Not knowing what information is being collected about you or how it is being used" as top concerns.
  • 87% of individuals are either somewhat or very concerned that their information is shared with another party without their knowledge or consent.
  • Two-thirds of Americans would accept less personalized content during their online experience, including fewer discounts, in order to keep their personal information private.

Notable Consumer Behavior

  • The majority of consumers report taking certain measures to protect their personal information.
    • The most common are keeping passwords strong, only utilizing trusted vendors and keeping software updated.
    • When it comes to steps that are not taken, consumers generally aren't sure how or why the steps should be taken or that they don't make a difference and their personal information could still be compromised.
  • Consumers are uninformed, in part, because they don't understand what information is being collected about them, how it's being used or with whom it is shared and, therefore, don't know how to protect themselves.
  • 49% of individuals are not familiar with how or why to set their Internet browser to the "do not track" mode.

Who Consumers Trust

  • The public is most comfortable with family, friends and their health insurance provider having access to their personal information.
  • Levels of trust vary greatly and health insurance providers and financial institutions are more trusted than not. Consumers were asked to rate institutions by how well they thought the institutions would responsibly handle their information on a scale from 1 to 100 ‒ 100 being most trusted. 
    • Their health insurance provider and banking or investment companies ranked as the most trusted entities and were rated at 56 and 57 respectively. This indicates they are more trusted than not, and rank much higher than advertisers at 22 and companies who collect and sell personal information at 15.
    • Overall, early adopters of technology are generally more trusting of all entities.

What's Important to Protect

  • The public is least comfortable providing Social Security numbers, list of contacts and email content when asked.
  • The public is least comfortable with the following information being collected: Social Security numbers, credit card information and email content. Younger adults are more concerned about their list of contacts being shared than are middle age and older adults.
  • When asked what information is of most value to companies and third parties, respondents indicated personal photos/videos while driving habits were perceived as least valuable to companies or third parties.

For more information on the survey's findings, please visit

Based on the first phase results, the multi-stakeholder group also created 10 privacy messages around knowledge, trust and impact of reputation/sharing. The comparison of personal information to money resonated as the single most important message. The respondents reported that the following messages were "Important to me," "get my attention," "make me want to learn more" and "make me want to take action":

  • Personal information is like money – Value it. Protect it.
  • Share with care – what you post can last a lifetime.
  • STOP.THINK.CONNECT. Personal information is important to protect.

On a parallel track, the multi-stake holder group also developed research-based tips to encourage and motivate consumers to consider the privacy implications of their online actions for themselves and others. To learn more, visit

DPD 2015 is sponsored by a host of digital industry leaders including Ghostery, Intel and ESET. This year, more than 300 champions – a designation for businesses, nonprofits and organizations such as ADP, the Center for Internet Security, EDUCAUSE,, Symantec, Twitter and the University of Virginia – have pledged their support and commitment to respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust throughout the year. Please visit NCSA's Data Privacy Day Champions page ( to learn more. In addition, a variety of business-focused events, webinars and informational "happy hours" will take place across the country to promote DPD. Visit for a complete listing.

So that critical information about data protection is delivered to mainstream audiences, NCSA has teamed with various groups to host privacy events ‒ open to the general public ‒ in several cities nationwide and virtually. Live events taking place in honor of Data Privacy Day will be held in Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego.

NCSA, the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing and the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business will broadcast Data Privacy Day Atlanta: Health Privacy in a Fully Connected World event live online for the world to watch. The event will be made available via NCSA's Data Privacy Day Livestream page on January 28, 2015 from 1:30 p.m. ET. until 4:45 p.m. ET.

For a full list of events taking place for Data Privacy Day in the United States, visit

Together with the European Data Protection Supervisor and Intel Corporation, NCSA is also hosting a trans-Atlantic roundtable discussion on shared privacy and data protection opportunities and goals at the Office of the European Data Protection Supervisor in Brussels. Speakers will include European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli; Ted Dean, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services, International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Paula Bruening, Senior Counsel, Global Privacy Policy, Intel Corporation.

For more on how to be a privacy pro, view NCSA's "privacy checkup" online resource page to learn how to change the privacy and security settings for your online devices and accounts. Do you need to brush up on how to better protect your online information? Take the NCSA and SpiderOak My Privacy IQ quiz at Visit the Privacy Library for additional resources about privacy.

About the Phase I National Survey
Heart+Mind Strategies conducted the national survey online with 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 and up between December 27, 2013January 5, 2014. The poll was part of an extensive analysis on the perceptions of online privacy for NCSA. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation rather than a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error.

About the Phase II National Survey  
Heart+Mind Strategies conducted the national survey online with 501 U.S. adults ages 18 and up between April 7-9, 2014. The poll was part of an extensive evaluation of messaging surrounding online privacy for NCSA. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have volunteered to participate in online surveys and polls. Because the sample is based on those who initially self-selected for participation rather than a probability sample, no estimates of sampling error can be calculated. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error.

About Data Privacy Day
Led by the National Cyber Security Alliance, Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. The Day commemorates the 1981 signing of Convention 108 – the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. On January 27, 2014, the 113th U.S. Congress adopted S. Res. 337, a nonbinding resolution expressing support for the designation of January 28 as "National Data Privacy Day." Ghostery is the Leading Sponsor of Data Privacy Day while ESET and Intel are Contributing Sponsors. Participating Sponsors are Lockheed Martin, Merck, Morrison & Foerster and Alston & Bird. Small Business Sponsors include the Churchill Club, the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing and the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, Golden Frog, Privacy Ref LLC, PRIVATE and SnoopWall.

About The National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation's leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet. Working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), private sector sponsors and non-profit collaborators to promote cybersecurity awareness, NCSA board members include representatives from ADP, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast Corporation, EMC Corporation, ESET, Facebook, Google, Intel, McAfee, Microsoft, Raytheon, Symantec, Verizon and Visa. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, NCSA's mission is to educate and empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely, protect themselves and the technology they use, and protect the digital assets we all share. For more information on NCSA please visit:


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SOURCE National Cyber Security Alliance