According to the 2018 Norton LifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report, nearly three out of four Americans (72 percent) are more alarmed than ever about their privacy. However, the majority accept certain risks to their online privacy in exchange for convenience (66 percent) and are willing to sell or give away certain personal information, such as their location (55 percent) and internet search history (55 percent), to companies.

In the age of information sharing, control is now at the heart of society’s privacy paradox – from who should have it to what the consequences should be when it is mishandled. In fact, 93 percent of Americans believe it is important to require that companies give customers control of how their personal data is used, while nearly half (49 percent) believe it is absolutely essential. Adequate recourse is also expected when personal information is not protected, with 51 percent of consumers believing it is absolutely essential that companies be required to provide a way for consumers to report misuse of their personal data, or consequently be fined.

“Our cyber safety is inherently tied to trust,” said Samir Kapuria, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Digital Safety, Symantec. “Most consumers are aware their data is being captured from the websites they visit, the social media they share and the apps they use and trust their information is being properly secured. However, these same consumers are often unaware of how and why data is captured and what companies do with it. The sheer amount of personal information being collected about us shows no signs of slowing and there is greater value placed on it than ever before.”

Additional U.S. findings include:

  • People view data protection as a right – not a privilege. Most Americans are not willing to pay organizations to ensure protection of their personal information. That’s particularly true when it comes to social media providers, with 72 percent of consumers saying they are not willing to pay providers to ensure their personal information is protected when using them, compared to 58 percent for retailers, 57 percent for healthcare institutions and 56 percent for financial institutions.
  • Americans have little to no trust in social media providers. 94 percent of Americans express little (40 percent) or no (54 percent) trust in social media providers when it comes to managing and protecting their personal information. In fact, more than a quarter of Americans with a social media account (28 percent) have deleted an account in the past 12 months due to privacy concerns.
  • Despite concerns, Americans embrace data sharing. While 85 percent of Americans are concerned about their privacy, many say they are willing to sell or give away certain personal data, including Internet search history (20 percent would give away for free, 35 percent would sell) and location (19 percent would give away, 36 percent would sell). Some are even willing to provide identification document information, such as driver’s license or passport information (18 percent would give away, 25 percent would sell).
  • Younger generations are more inclined to take action on social media accounts. 33 percent of Americans ages 18-38 and 31 percent of those who are 39-53 who have a social media account deleted it in the past 12 months due to privacy concerns, compared to only 20 percent of those who are 54 and older. However, younger generations are significantly more likely to embrace data sharing in the digital age, with more than 60 percent of those who are 18-38 willing to sell or give away certain personal information (such as their location or internet search history), compared to less than 45 percent of those who are 54 and older.

Kapuria adds, “Although consumers want greater control over their privacy and action taken against those that mishandle personal data, they want this control to come without hassle or cost, so they are willing to take risks in favor of convenience. Convenience continues to reign supreme when it comes to sharing personal data.”