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Snowden leaks erode trust in Internet companies, government

Jaikumar Vijayan | April 7, 2014
Users in the U.S. are scaling back Internet use out of fears of government surveillance, Harris survey finds.

When the same respondents were asked whom they feared would violate their privacy the most, about 36% picked the NSA, and 18% the IRS. About 26% picked Facebook.

The numbers suggest that Internet users are generally mistrustful of large Internet companies. It is unclear to what extent specifically the Snowden revelations have contributed to or exacerbated the mistrust, she said. "But it is absolutely a part of this," she said.

For the most part Internet users appear resigned to the fact that they need to give up some personal information in return for a free service. There is an expectation that companies like Facebook and Google collect and sell personal data. Internet users appear to be accepting that reality, Ekins said.

Respondents, though, said they oppose government data collection and surveillance, she added. "It just goes against the grain. People realize that there is a difference between collecting data with the intent of selling it versus using it for spying. People realize there is an inherent difference in how the data is used."


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