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Security fears on Internet cause big cuts in US Web usage: survey

Posted by inet - 2005-10-27

Nearly one-third of US Internet users are cutting back on Web usage and 25 percent say they have stopped buying online due to fears of identity theft and other threats, a survey showed.
The survey by Consumer Reports WebWatch, a joint effort of the consumer magazine Consumer Reports and other organizations, found Internet users are less trustful of websites and have been adjusting their behavior due to what they see as threats online.

Eighty percent said they were at least "somewhat concerned" someone could steal their identity from personal information on the Internet, and 86 percent have made at least one change in their online behavior.

The survey found 30 percent say they have reduced their overall use of the Internet.

Some 53 percent said they have stopped giving out personal information on the Internet, and 25 percent say they have stopped buying things online.

Among those who continue to shop online, 29 percent said they have cut back on how often they buy on the Internet.

Additionally, 54 percent of those who shop online report they have become more likely to read a site's privacy policy or user agreement before buying.

The report confirmed other surveys that showed eroding confidence in the Internet for commerce due to concerns about identity theft, credit card fraud and security breaches that leaked personal information.

The latest survey of 1,501 Internet users was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

The survey found Internet users were keenly aware of the questions about information security -- with 88 percent saying keeping personal information safe and secure is very important.

"We're gratified that over time, our guidelines for improving website credibility, and the general concerns of US Internet users, remain connected," said Beau Brendler, director of Consumer Reports WebWatch.

"The types of qualities users expect from credible websites are the same qualities found in WebWatch's guidelines."

Although fears have increased, overall interest in the Internet remains strong, the survey found.

The percentage of adults saying they get most of their news from the Internet has doubled from five percent in a similar survey in 2002 to 11 percent in this poll.

Some 27 percent say they have visited a blog in the past several months, but just one in eight users (12 percent) say they believe the information on blogs is accurate at least most of the time.

Nearly half the poll's respondents -- 47 percent -- say they have come across manipulated digital images on the Web. However, two-thirds said they trust online news sites a lot or somewhat to use photographs that are genuine and have not been altered to change their meaning.

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