National security is a more pressing concern for a majority of users than is digital privacy, reveals a new survey.
Between November 20, 2015 and December 4, 2015, the global research company Ipsos conducted a survey of 24,143 Internet users in 24 different countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United States.
The survey was commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a non-partisan think tank dedicated to exploring issues of international governance.
When asked whether law enforcement officials should have access to citizens’ online communications, 70 percent of respondents answered in the affirmative. That number jumped to 85 percent under the condition that a citizen had committed a crime.
At the same time, a majority of both Americans (60 percent) and Internet users more generally (63 percent) felt that companies should not develop technologies to prevent law enforcement from accessing their consumers’ data.
“Public attention today is focused on national security and digital privacy. When it comes to national security, Americans and Canadians, as well as global citizens from 24 countries believe that digital privacy considerations come secondary to their own government’s pursuit of keeping their home country safe,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs & CIGI Senior Fellow, as quoted in a CIGI press release.
This support of public safety over privacy also applies to users’ opinion of the dark web. A majority of respondents (71 percent) felt that the dark net should be should be shut down despite the anonymity and privacy benefits it can provide.
“The anonymity of the technology of the Dark Net cuts both ways — while people can use the network for villainous purposes, people can also use it for good,” said Eric Jardine, CIGI research fellow and Dark Web expert, in another CIGI press release. “Despite public opinion, shuttering anonymity networks is not a viable long-term solution, as it will probably prove ineffective and will be costly to those people that genuinely benefit from these systems.”
These findings notwithstanding, Fen Osler Hampson, director of the global security and politics program at CIGI, suspects that popular concern over privacy will continue to grow in the coming months and years, especially as additional legal battles like the Apple-FBI iPhone controversy enter the public consciousness.