New Study Reveals Americans’ Attitudes about Personal Data Usage by Major Companies

The personal data gathering techniques of Facebook, Google and other international organizations has deepened the fear of many Americans who are worried about privacy issues, according to a new poll conducted by Reuters.

Facebook and Google ranked at the top of Americans’ list when expressing concerns about the ability to monitor personal communications and spending habits and track physical locations, according to a new Reuters poll.

The survey displays the public’s ambivalence towards companies whose online services – search, e-commerce and social networking – have grown into one of the world’s most powerful businesses.

As the line between real world services and web products has blurred, many Internet companies are working to carve a niche in a variety of industries, from automobiles to home appliances. Amazon, Facebook, Google and others have been busy acquiring a wide range of companies and developing technology projects. Google in particular has developed into one of the most ambitious companies, investing in drones, robots, augmented-reality glasses and self-driving cars.

Among the 4,781 respondents, a little more than half (51 percent) said that three companies – Twitter, Microsoft and Apple – were playing too much of a role in people’s lives.

Approximately one-third of respondents said they were unaware of Google’s plans to move into the arena of real-world products like appliances, cars and phones. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of respondents were worried about how these companies would store their data or collect personal information. New wearable devices such as smartwatches and fitness bracelets have allowed many companies to gather biological data.

Only 13 percent of survey respondents expressed negative feelings about online home appliance companies. On the other hand, 42 percent said they were concerned about drones (29 percent robots).

University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo, who recently published a paper about the social and legal implications of robotics, indicates that the recent revelations of NSA surveillance as related to the Edward Snowden scandal have heightened public sensitivity about data security.

Tax Refunds Means More Spending, Saving, and Doing for Americans

From vacation to education, American taxpayers have more options than ever before to allocate their incoming funds.

Every year thousands of businesses advertise special post-tax season sales in an effort to garner a portion of America’s big payday. The most popular promotions across the board are the Tax Day freebies. While it may seem counterproductive to give things away, businesses known that if they can associate their name with something positive in times of stress – such as tax day – consumers are more likely to patronize them all year long.

Some of the most popular tax day giveaways include a free 15 min. HydroMassage (available at Planet Fitness), free shredding service from Office Depot, and even a complimentary dinner at Hard Rock Café.

Other businesses opt to slash prices on large purchases to convince buyers to take the plunge. Many auto dealerships across the nation offer vehicles at or near cost, appliance and electronics retailers boldly display their goods with low down payments, and vacation destinations will gladly check people in for up to half price – as long as they’re willing to prepay.

But, not all refund holders will splurge. According to, the average tax refund is over $2500. The site suggests that savings will also be hot in 2014. Families have numerous options to put their money to good use aside from traditional retirement accounts.

A large tax refund may offer the opportunity to create an emergency reserve for expenses such as food, utilities, and mortgage. Additionally, consumers can save thousands of dollars over the course of a credit card repayment cycle by paying down their balance. Those looking to build further into the future typically elect to invest in their careers by spending money on continuing education programs. Other ways to save in the long run include paying for a home energy audit or tackling energy-consuming maintenance projects.