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New Survey Shows Americans Want Economy-Wide, Federal Privacy Protections

Washington, DCInternet Association (IA) today released the results of a national public opinion survey that demonstrate Americans’ strong support for economy-wide, federal privacy protections. 

In a national poll of 2,744 U.S. adults, Americans said they want consistent data privacy protections regardless of where they live or the type of company they interact with. The poll also showed that Americans are comfortable sharing data with companies in exchange for free or low-cost services. Additionally, 73 percent of Americans want privacy protections enforced at the federal level, with over half of respondents supporting federal preemption of state privacy laws. 

“Internet companies support an economy-wide, federal privacy law that puts Americans in control of the data they share with companies across all industries,” said IA Interim President and CEO Jon Berroya. “These findings underscore the need for Congress to pass comprehensive legislation that provides consumers with consistent privacy protections regardless of where they live, travel, or shop.”

Some key highlights from the survey can be found below. 

Americans Want Consistent Privacy Protections Across State Lines

  • 93 percent say their personal information will be misused when it’s not protected by the same law or regulations across the country, saying it’s “extremely,” “very,” or “somewhat” likely
  • 78 percent say that their privacy protections should not change depending on where they live in the U.S.
  • 57 percent of say that a federal data privacy law should preempt state privacy laws that often differ and conflict.

Americans Want Consistent Privacy Protections Online And Offline

  • 99 percent say it is important to have privacy protections that cover the data they share with online companies and brick and mortar businesses alike, saying it’s “extremely,” “very,” or “somewhat” important
  • 90 percent say that personal information should have the same protections regardless of whether it’s shared with an online company or brick and mortar business.  
  • 58 percent expect that the personal information they share with online companies and brick and mortar businesses will be securely handled and protected. 

Many Americans Are Comfortable Sharing Data With Companies In Exchange For Free And Low-Cost Services

The percentage of Americans who say are “extremely,” “very,” or “somewhat” comfortable sharing data for a free or low-cost service:

  • 78 percent: sharing data with a GPS or traffic navigation app to find nearby stores, restaurants, and other location-based services.
  • 70 percent: sharing data if it will allow businesses to provide better, more customized services or products tailored to their preferences.
  • 70 percent: with a company – with whom they’ve shared their data – anonymizing and sharing that data with a government or nonprofit organization to help manage a public health or safety crisis. 

IA’s privacy survey was conducted via online interviews through SurveyMonkey from April 20-22, 2020. The survey included interviews with 2,744 American adults. Full survey results are available here

A two-page summary of the survey can be found here