Tracking Terrorists Online Might Invade Your Privacy

Tracking Terrorists Online Might Invade Your Privacy.

Americans have long been divided in their views about the trade-off between security needs and personal privacy. Much of the focus has been on government surveillance, though there are also significant concerns about how businesses use data. The issue flared again when a federal court ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the suspects in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015. Apple challenged the order to try to ensure that security of other iPhones remained protected, and also to provoke a wider national conversation about how far people would like technology firms to go in protecting their privacy or cooperating with law enforcement. A Pew Research Center survey in December 2015 found that 56% of Americans were more concerned that the government’s anti-terror policies have not gone far enough to protect the country, compared with 28% who expressed concern that the policies have gone too far in restricting the average person’s civil liberties. Just two years earlier, amid the furore over Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency surveillance programmes, more said their bigger concern was that anti-terror programmes had gone too far in restricting civil liberties (47%) rather than not far enough in protecting the country (35%). As businesses increasingly mine data about consumers, Americans are concerned about preserving their privacy when it comes to their personal information and behaviours. Those views have intensified in recent years, especially after big data breaches at companies such as TargeteBay and Anthem as well as of federal employee personnel files. Our surveys show that people now are more anxious about the security of their personal data and are more aware that greater and greater volumes of data are being collected about them. The vast majority feel they have lost control of their personal data, and this has spawned considerable anxiety. They are not very confident that companies collecting their information will keep it secure. Credit: Pew Research Center.

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