For the third year in a row, USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is partnering with the Los Angeles Times for a public opinion poll about the state of California. Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, and David Sarno, business and technology reporter for the Los Angeles Times, discuss how Californians feel about on-line privacy issues. Visit the USC Dornsife Web site for more information:http://dornsife.usc.edu/poll
Excerpts: “California’s high-tech firms make the world’s most popular smartphones, social networks and search engines, but there’s one asset they’re struggling to build: trust.
The vast majority of Californians surveyed in a statewide poll are worried about the data collected by Internet and smartphone companies, and most said they distrust even firms known for their ardent fans and tens of millions of daily users.
Many of those surveyed in the latest USC Dornsife/Times poll also said they were wary of firms collecting personal information without their knowledge and concerned that personal data could become public or be harvested to sell them products.
The results of the survey, which draw a stark picture of the public’s attitude on privacy, come as policymakers ramp up efforts to pass laws aimed at protecting personal information on users’ whereabouts, interests and social activity. In recent months, federal lawmakers have held numerous hearings about the need for privacy laws, and Obama administration officials recently renewed their call for Congress to pass online privacy legislation.
“It reaffirms my opinion that privacy is a big deal — and it’s becoming a bigger deal,” Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas) said of the poll results. Barton, who cosponsored a privacy bill pending in Congress, said lawmakers are “gaining ground” in their years-long battle to write data privacy into law.
The findings of the survey, conducted for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times, were consistent with a poll released last month by the Pew Research Center, which found that 68% of respondents did not approve of targeted Internet advertising if it meant having their online behavior tracked and analyzed. Pew has said that nearly 3 in 4 Americans now use search engines, and two-thirds use social networks. Nearly half of adults in the U.S. own smartphones.
The USC Dornsife/Times poll revealed that the rise of digital culture is mirrored by Californians’ sense of the technology industry’s importance to the state economy, with 65% of those surveyed saying the technology business was more economically important than the state’s other marquee industry, entertainment.
But the increasingly central role of technology in the lives of consumers did little to inspire trust in Silicon Valley’s star companies. Respondents were asked to rate six on whether they trusted the companies to be responsible with personal data. On a 10-point scale, with zero meaning no trust and 10 meaning complete trust, none scored above five, and most hovered around three.”
Read more at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-fi-privacy-poll-20120331,0,2763981.story