Citizens suspect their governments of abusing powers to access data

New research from Venafi has found some 59% of UK citizens suspect the government of abusing its powers to access data on citizens.

The results also found that  69% UK consumers do not trust their government’s ability to fight cybercrime – higher than the global average of 62%.

This survey, conducted by the machine identity specialist, comes at a time when the debates between government and industry over privacy and encryption are growing more fraught – including the legal challenge to the UK’s ‘Snoopers’ Charter’.

Further findings from the survey include:

  • Almost half of Brits (47%) do not trust the government to keep their personal data (such as passport number, criminal history, tax and financial information) secure compared to a global average of 51%.
  • 40% of UK consumers do not think the government should be able to force tech companies to allow them access to personal data that has been encrypted to keep it private, lower than the global 55% of consumers who feel the same way.
  • However, 41% believe laws that allow the government to access encrypted personal data will make them safer from terrorists, while 25% of consumers think that allowing the government to access encrypted personal data would actually benefit cyber criminals – much lower than the two-fifths (38%) of global consumers who think government access would benefit cyber criminals.
  • 50% of British consumers think governments should not be able to force consumers to hand over personal data, such as the contents of their mobile phone, social media account, email and other online activity – compared to the two-thirds (65%) of global consumers who feel this way.

“The results of this research indicate that security and privacy are probably going to get a lot worse before they get better,” said Jeff Hudson, CEO of Venafi. “It’s very clear that consumers are confused about what access to encrypted data will mean to their privacy, and it’s equally clear that governments don’t understand how encryption backdoors will be used to undermine our global digital economy. The negative impact encryption backdoors will have on every aspect of security and privacy is tremendous.”

The study was conducted by One Poll and completed in July 2017. It analysed responses from three thousand adult consumers from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany.

Related reading