Pew Survey: Risks of Data Collection Outweigh Benefits

Eight out of 10 people say that the potential benefit from widespread data collection by companies is not worth the risks. A smaller, but still two-thirds (66%), majority say the same about government data collection.  

Given that result, it is no surprise that almost as many 79% say they are concerned about the way their data is used after it is collected by companies, with 64% saying the same about the government.  

Source: Pew Research Center

Source: Pew Research Center

But in either case, a majority say there is nothing they can to do stop it. 

That is according to a new Pew Research Center survey on digital privacy. 

It found that 79% said they were not confident that companies will admit mistakes or take responsibility for misuse of personal data. 

"Eight-in-ten adults say they are at least a little concerned about how much personal information social media sites (85%), advertisers (84%), or companies they buy things from (80%) might know about them," the survey found.

Data security is also a big concern, with 70% saying their personal data is less secure than in the past, with only 6% saying they believe data is more secure now. 

The survey found that six of 10 U.S. adults say they do not think it is possible to through daily life without having data collected on them by both. 

There are some race-based differences in views of privacy. 

Blacks (60%) are much more likely than whites (43%) to say they think the government is tracking most or all of what they do on their computers, tablets and phones.  

The survey was conducted June 3-June 17, 2019, among a total of 4,272 U.S. adults. The margin of error was 1.9 percentage points. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.