NTIA: Consumer Security Concerns Having Economic Impact

By Chris Tribbey

A new report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) sees nearly 20% of American internet homes — or 19 million households — say they’ve been affected by an online security breach, identity theft, or similar cyber security issue during a 12-month period.

NTIA’s insights — gleaned from U.S. Census Bureau data collected in July 2015 — asked several privacy and security questions of more than 41,000 internet-using households, and found that security concerns are actually causing some Americans to limit their online activity.

“NTIA’s analysis of recent data shows that Americans are increasingly concerned about online security and privacy at a time when data breaches, cyber security incidents, and controversies over the privacy of online services have become more prominent,” the report reads. 

One stat showed that 22% of internet-using homes with a mobile data plan experienced a data breach, compared to one 11% who weren’t using data plans to get online outside of the home, another indication that data breaches are more prevalent for those who are constantly connected.

What concerns Americans the most — with 63% putting it at the top of their list — was identity theft, while 30% of those homes that had experienced a breach put data collection and uninvited online tracking as some of their top concerns.

“NTIA’s most troubling finding comes from a series of questions about whether households had refrained from participating in certain online activities due to privacy or security concerns during the year prior to the survey,” the report reads. Forty-five percent of homes said those concerns have prevented them from conducting financial transactions, paying for goods or services, using social networks, or expressing opinions on controversial issues online. NTIA reported that 30% of respondents said they refrained from at least two of those.