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TheStreet Open House

Less Than Half Of Americans Trust Federal Government With Personal Info

NEW YORK, July 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --  With revelations of government spying coming one after another in recent weeks, it's perhaps no surprise that just under half of American adults (48%) trust the federal government to handle personal information privately and securely, down from 54% in 2009. Trust in the federal government is highest among those ages 18-34 years old, and lowest among those 55 and older (58% ages 18-34 and 39% ages 55+).

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This puts the federal government well behind health providers (79%, up from 74% in 2009), major online retailers (74%, not asked in 2009) and banks/brokerage companies (68%, up from 59% in 2009), slightly behind small and/or independent online retailers (55%, also not asked in 2009) and on par with state and local governments (52%, down from 56% in 2009) and search and portal sites (49%, even with 2009 results), in terms of American's trust in their handling of personal information in a properly confidential and secure manner. Social networking sites are well behind the federal government, at 28% - though this does represent some growth in trust from 23% in 2009.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,091 adults surveyed online between June 28 and July 2, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings, including data tables and perceptions of other potential privacy threats, available here)

Privacy at risk from cyber-criminals, social media, government snoops and… your fellow Americans?

It is perhaps not surprising that the vast majority of Americans – nearly nine in ten (88%) – see cyber-criminals as a threat to their privacy, making this group the top threat among all those tested. Social networking sites are the next strongest perceived threat, with seven in ten (70%) perceiving such sites as threats to their privacy.

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