Ninety-three percent of Americans said they are willing to sacrifice some level of privacy to increase safety when traveling by air, according to research conducted in January and February by Unisys Corporation. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65 percent) said they are willing to cooperate with full electronic body scans at the airport, and more than half (57 percent) would be willing to submit to identity checks using biometric data such as iris scans or fingerprints.
Nearly three quarters of Americans (72 percent) said they are willing to provide personal data in advance of air travel to increase security.
The findings, part of the latest bi-annual Unisys Security Index, illustrate that recent events such as the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing may have made security a priority for air travelers. A clear majority of citizens in nearly every country surveyed said they would be willing to forgo privacy to increase air travel security. For example, 90 percent of citizens in the United Kingdom and 70 percent of Australians said they would submit to electronic body scans.
The latest results of Index also confirmed that national security and identity theft rank as America’s top concerns, with nearly two-thirds (65 percent) “extremely” or “very” concerned about U.S. national security and 64 percent seriously concerned about identity theft. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (62 percent) are also seriously concerned about credit and debit card fraud. The percentage of Americans who are seriously concerned about the security of online transactions is at the highest level now (43 percent) since the Index began three years ago. The percentage of Americans who are “extremely concerned” about the security of their online transactions rose to 20 percent (up from 16 percent in September 2009).
The research reveals another significant drop in the proportion of American adults who are “very concerned” about a national health epidemic like H1N1 (30 percent in September 2009 to 23 percent presently), while there has been an uptick in Americans “not at all concerned” about a national health epidemic — 18 percent in September 2009 to 21 percent currently.
Additional key findings include:
• Citizens of the UK were the most accepting of electronic body scans at airports, with 90 percent of citizens approving the procedure. A large majority of the Dutch public (81 percent ) were also in favor, followed by Australians (70 percent ).
• Mexico and Hong Kong were the only countries surveyed in which a majority did not indicate willingness to submit to electronic body scans at airports. Only 24 percent of the Mexican adults and 45 percent of those in Hong Kong said they would support use of the procedure.
• Security concerns were highest in Brazil, which reported an overall index score of 177, closely followed by Mexico with a score of 173. The Netherlands reported the lowest level of concern with an overall score of 70.
• Identity crime ranks as the overall greatest concern in the United Kingdom. 87 percent of UK adults are worried about unauthorized access to their personal information and the same percentage expressed fear about other people obtaining or using their credit card or debit card details.
• National security concern is extremely high in Mexico. More than three-quarters of Mexicans (77 percent ) are seriously concerned about national security, the top concern in the country. Only 4 percent of Mexicans said they were not concerned about national security.