80 percent of internet users believe privacy is a fundamental right

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People care more about their privacy than ever before according to the latest Consumer Openness Index by open source messaging and office productivity company OpenXchange, with 80 percent believing they have a right to privacy.

The survey of 3,000 Internet users in the US, UK and Germany shows that over the past year, public opinions about data privacy have hardened. The internet-aware public in all regions surveyed are more likely to say they would stop using websites and services if news of a privacy scandal broke.

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The number of people who believe that technology companies never have the right to share their personal data is also up, to 57 percent of internet users surveyed. However, nearly one in three respondents (31 percent) said that they didn't know if their personal data had ever been compromised.

There are also increased demands for elected officials to take a stance to protect the privacy of data. In the US, 81 percent of respondents care about the presidential candidates' positions on data privacy, and a slight majority (51 percent) believe the candidates should pay more attention to it. Although the report finds significant confusion around the data privacy stances of individual candidates, the majority of Americans indicated that a candidate's position on data privacy would influence their vote.

Across all three countries 64 percent of people believe the US election will impact privacy related government policy around the world. In addition 63 percent admit to being concerned about who in the government has access to their data. In the UK, 53 percent believe that the impact of the Investigatory Powers Bill -- a proposal that would increase the government's surveillance powers -- has not been adequately explained by Home Secretary Theresa May and lacks a balanced argument. Meanwhile in Germany, nearly half of respondents (46 percent) are in favor of the European Court of Justice's decision to invalidate Safe Harbor.

"Governments and corporations are gathering unfathomable amounts of information about the online lives of every individual," says Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange. "As a result, it's no surprise that across the world, people increasingly fear their personal data is exposed. Worse than that, recent studies have shown that people feel powerless to protect their data. But there is hope: there are signs that citizens believe that compromising their right to privacy can no longer be tolerated. They are asking for greater transparency in the services they use and the politicians they elect, and searching for solutions to protect themselves".

The survey also shows that privacy worries have led to increased interest in ways to protect information. 88 percent of respondents say they would be interested in at least one encryption-related service, such as a one-click button that encrypts outgoing email, or encryption as a standard feature of applications. However, current encryption solutions don't fit the bill, either because they seem too complicated (28 percent), or they're not easy to incorporate (24 percent).

You can find out more and download a copy of the report from the OpenXchange website.

Photo credit: Pelykh Konstantin / Shutterstock

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