Despite 47% of people saying privacy is a basic human right, VPN provider HideMyAss! has identified that a stigma exists for those who seek privacy online
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.–The following is a statement from HideMyAss!:
Privacy advocates are perceived by people around the world as untrustworthy, paranoid, male loners with something to hide, according to new research for HideMyAss!
Privacy advocates are perceived by people around the world as untrustworthy, paranoid, male loners with something to hide, according to new research* for HideMyAss! Even though almost half of people surveyed (47%) agreed that privacy is an indispensable human right and 84% believed their online history could be accessed without them knowing by governments, hackers, police and partners, the research indicates that a stigma exists against those who seek to be private when online.
The research also suggests there is apathy towards protecting privacy as almost one in five admitted they don’t take any action to protect it. Of those who do take action, 83% only rely on some form of password protection as their main privacy measure; 54% claim to never share their password with anyone and 29% do not save passwords on their browsers or devices. Few of us would leave our curtains open and doors unlocked at night for anyone to look through or enter, but it would appear the opposite is true on the internet.
You gotta fight for your right to…privacy
“Why do we demand privacy offline but attach suspicion to those who pursue it online? This unhelpful stereotyping could be preventing people from protecting their privacy rights in a consistent and effective way, encouraging personal information and identity theft by cybercriminals, and even spying and invasive profiling by organizations and governments,” commented Brad Poole, consumer privacy advocate at HideMyAss!
“By not applying privacy options, we are unconsciously handing over our digital identities and life histories in return for a more convenient experience. We need to eliminate the stigma associated with privacy online otherwise we reinforce the perception that everyone who cares about their personal privacy is worthy of doubt.”
Although there is overwhelming support for people using the internet privately for legal activities (80%), nearly a quarter (24%) think that people who aren’t willing to divulge what they do online have something to hide. A similar number (21%) expected them to be untrustworthy, and nearly a fifth (19%) said they are more likely to have a criminal record.
Of those who identified particular traits or interests of privacy advocates, respondents said they could be paranoid (49%), loners (35%) or people who were partial to spying on their neighbors (41%). Over half (56%) concluded they would be likely to watch adult content online, and nearly two-thirds (63%) claimed men would be more likely and only a third of women.
High awareness; low action
Despite 84% of respondents believing that their online history could be accessed without them knowing, just over half (56%) recognized the abilities of hackers, government (45%) and police (42%) to do this. Companies such as ISPs (41%), web browser providers (38%) and service providers/retailers (24%) also featured, as did spouses or partners for nearly one fifth of respondents (17%).
Of those who do take action to protect their online privacy, refusing to share passwords was the most popular option for over half of respondents (54%). Surprisingly, almost a third (28%) claimed they only ever use Wi-Fi at home and a similar number (33%) said that they always log out at the end of browsing sessions. Only 32% proactively disable location-based services on their devices.
In fact, more people who do take action go to the effort of covering their webcam or using browsers in anonymous mode (20% for both) stopping people from seeing their screens (14%) and foregoing social media (13%) in order to protect their privacy, than taking the simple step of using a privacy solution such as a VPN, which is used by just over one in 10 (11%).
In an effort to break the stigma, HideMyAss! has put together a simple privacy checklist for those who want to defend their online privacy and fight back against unfair stereotyping. This and a full copy of the Privacy Stigma Report are available on the HideMyAss! Blog.
HideMyAss! (HMA!) helps millions of people all over the world to safely and securely enjoy the internet, preserving our fundamental right to choose how and when we share personal information. HideMyAss! has more than 890 servers in over 280 locations in over 190 countries and is a global company based in London with offices in the UK and Serbia.
HideMyAss! is a champion of net neutrality and a committed anti-censorship campaigner. It believes strongly that everyone should be entitled to freedom of association and open access to online information.