The COVID-19 crisis is causing Americans to question many of their priorities. But a new Confidently survey shows protecting online privacy is as important now as it ever was -- if not more so.
Why? Because Americans are using the internet more during the pandemic than ever before -- and in many cases using new online services to help them shelter-in-place.
Confidently recently conducted a survey of 150 California residents to understand how COVID-19 has affected their views on privacy and their use of the internet. Here are some of our key findings:
Online privacy seen as important -- if not even more important -- than ever before, even during the COVID-19 crisis
When people were asked how important protecting their online privacy is to them personally, on a scale of 1-10 (where 10 is extremely important), the average response was 8.5. That’s remarkably consistent with the response we received to the same question on two previous surveys (8.7 in April 2019, 8.8 in June 2019).
Additionally, in our most recent survey, 41% of respondents said they are more concerned about their privacy now during the COVID-19 crisis. Only 8% of respondents said they are less concerned about their privacy, while 51% are equally concerned now as they were before.
Clearly, online privacy is still a top-of-mind issue for people, even during the COVID-19 crisis.
People are spending more time on the internet during the COVID-19 crisis than they were before66% of respondents said they are spending more time online during the COVID-19 crisis, while only 6% said they are spending less time. 28% are spending the same amount of time online as they were before the crisis.
And how are they spending that time? On 4 key activities: Getting the latest news & information (69% rated 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale, where 5 is something they’re doing a lot), email & text messaging (67%), streaming online movies & TV shows (59%), staying in touch via social media (53%).
Other important online activities include banking/financial services (44%), online shopping (38%), and playing online games (34%).
Many people are using the internet for brand new activities -- or activities that they’re doing significantly more often now than before -- especially video chat, online education, and home delivery30% of survey respondents told us they’re video chatting with friends and family for the first time (or at least significantly more than they were before) during the COVID-19 crisis.
Similarly, 28% of respondents are taking online education courses, 27% are ordering home delivery of meals or groceries, and 24% are doing video conferencing for work for the first time -- or at least significantly more than they were before.
Most people are willing to share location data to aid the COVID-19 public health effort, but only if they remain anonymousWe asked respondents whether, in the interest of public health, they would be willing to share some of their personal location data to help local officials control the spread of COVID-19 (i.e, track whether they’ve come in contact with someone else who tested positive, gauge how much they’re social distancing).
10% of people told us yes, they’d be willing to share their personal location data without any restriction. 68% of respondents told us yes, but only if their data is anonymized and deleted afterwards. 20% told us no, they wouldn’t be willing to share their personal location data in any circumstances.
Have other thoughts or feedback? Head over to the Confidently Facebook page to leave a comment on our recent post on our COVID-19/Privacy survey.