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.

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