Among the many dimensions of digital inequality is the unequal distribution of the risks and resources associated with online life. Americans with lower levels of income and education are acutely aware of a range of digital privacy-related harms that could upend their financial, professional, or social wellbeing. And these concerns are often accompanied by low levels of trust in the institutions and companies that these Americans rely on to be responsible stewards of their data. At the same time, there are significant racial disparities when looking at privacy-related concerns; in particular, foreignborn Hispanic adults stand out for both their privacy sensitivites and their desire to learn more about safeguarding their personal information. Yet, many of those who feel most vulnerable to data-related harms also feel as though it would be difficult for them to find the tools and strategies needed to better protect their personal information online. These are among the key findings of a newly-released survey conducted by the Data & Society Research Institute and supported by a grant from the Digital Trust Foundation. The nationally representative survey was fielded in November and December of 2015 among 3,000 American adults, including an oversample of adults with annual household incomes of less than $40,000. The survey provides new insights into the privacy and security experiences of low-socioeconomic status (low-SES) populations and aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of their technology-related behaviors and beliefs.
Madden, M. (2017). Privacy, Security, and Digital Inequality. Data & Society Research Institute.