The continuing fallout from the US government's PRISM controversy appears to be causing significant reverberations around the globe. In a recent VGA poll, more than two thirds of Australians expressed rising concerns about the invasiveness of future technology. In addition, 49 percent indicated that they have changed their attitude towards privacy since the PRISM surveillance program was publicly revealed.
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Online security vendor AVG polled 381 Australians as part of a worldwide poll encompassing 4,927 people. While around 69 percent of Australian consumers surveyed said they believed future technology would be helpful, a massive 73 percent also believed it would become increasingly more invasive as the digital world continues to develop.
Around half of respondents also said that the recent news from the US on the NSA and PRISM had changed their attitude towards privacy and made them more concerned about the issue.
Not unrelatedly, 49 percent of Australians also expressed eroding trust in companies to safeguard their information, which isn't great news for cloud providers. Interestingly, despite the US Government collecting civilians’ telephone and internet data to "fight terrorism", the figure was actually slightly lower among respondents in the US. Go figure.
"A lot of the discussion surrounding privacy [is] subjective and comes down to personal opinion," admitted Michael McKinnon, security advisor for AVG Technologies AU. "It depends on what you vantage point is: are you an individual? Are you a small business? Are you an enterprise? Are you a nation state?
"There are many different vantage points on what the issue of privacy is and what it really means. But I think at the end of the day, the one thing that aligns us is that we are all individual users of technology and most of us care about the same protections.
"This survey shows that people are listening which is good news. While people are still willing to sacrifice their privacy it's only to a point now, whereas in the past people really didn't care as much. So there's definitely a groundswell of opinion that has come out of this research to indicate that people do really care about their online privacy."
On the other end of the spectrum, some 22 percent of Australian respondents admitted that they were either unaware of the privacy settings for their personal devices, or ignored them because they feel it was too complicated. 50 percent also said they were happy to give out personal information online in exchange for services.
AVG's online survey was conducted in August 2013 and included respondents from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, the UK and the USA.