Online privacy - Statistics & Facts

Online privacy - Statistics & Facts

Statistics and facts about online privacy

As of January 2017, 50 percent of the global population has access to the internet. Being connected to the largest information database in the world, however, does come at a price. While some see loss of privacy as a necessary evil, other internet users see it as an abuse which they are trying to eliminate, or at least minimize through different approaches. Due to the fact that the problem is new enough that little precedent can be invoked, policy makers and technology-developers, as well as individual users, are finding it hard to keep up with the very creative ways of online danger.


As of 2016, the threat to online privacy comes from a few different directions. On one hand, in the United States, online hackers are feared by some 96 percent of internet users. Disclosure of sensitive personal data such as credit card information or social security number, which can lead to stolen identities and financial damages, is the most common fear of internet users.

Another source of worry for internet users has increasingly been the involvement of various governments in the online activities of their nationals. In the United States, such fears were furthered during the 2013 leak of operational details about the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners' global surveillance of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens. January 2016 data shows that a sizeable number of worldwide internet users and IT professionals do not believe that governments should have access to encrypted information systems and have adopted specific online strategies to hide their information from the government. National security agencies, on the other hand, justify their right to access personal user data in light of terrorist threats of the past years and are pushing tech manufacturers to build in special codes allowing access in case of suspicious behavior.

Another increasing worry in the online medium is malicious use of personal information intended to humiliate, harass or in other ways damage someone’s reputation. A July 2016 survey of U.S. online users about online harassment through the invasion of privacy has revealed that five percent of internet users in the United States had harm caused to them through the exposure of sensitive information. Online identity theft, device security and fake communications are some of the biggest fear parents have when it comes to their children’s online safety. Some 50 percent of surveyed American parents say they have already discussed identity theft with their children as many governments around around the world have passed laws trying to protect internet users from such acts. Furthermore, an initiative called “the right to be forgotten” has been passed into law in several countries, in a bid to give individuals control over the information existent about them on the World Wide Web. As of March 2015, Google has granted some 46 percent of requests regarding link removal containing sensitive information.



Picture: istockphoto.com / jhuting; freeimages.com / Marc and Cristina Palmer and Burke

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Facts on online privacy
Data breachesValuesStatistic
Leading causes of data breaches worldwide in 2016Data theft Details →
Number of global data breaches pertaining to identity theft as of H2 2016429 Details →
Annual number of data breaches in the United States in 20161,093 Details →
Annual number of exposed records in the United States in 201636.6m Details →
Number of compromised data records in the biggest Yahoo data breach as of April 20171bn Details →
Share of U.S. adults who have had their social media accounts taken over without permission in 201613% Details →
Online privacyValuesStatistic
Share of U.S. adults who are very confident in the ability of the federal government to protect their data in 201612% Details →
Share of U.S. users who trust Facebook not at all with their personal data as of April 201628% Details →
Most common type of personal data added to Google user accounts in 2016Contact information Details →
Share of U.S. internet users who experienced online harassment through online activity monitoring as of July 201614% Details →
Government surveillanceValuesStatistic
U.S. adults aged 18-29 who think the government should be able to access encrypted communications when investigating crimes in 201641% Details →
Number of user data requests made to Google from U.S. federal agencies and courts from in H1 201614,168 Details →
Number of user data requests made to Snapchat from U.S. federal agencies and courts in H1 20161,472 Details →
Number of user data requests made to Twitter from U.S. federal agencies and courts in H2 20165,618 Details →
Number of user data requests made to Facebook from U.S. federal agencies and courts in H2 201626,014 Details →


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