Privacy issues have been dominating the news recently.  So the results of the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll XVII —” All Eyes on Privacy –Transparency in the New Economy” (Poll) could not be more timely or informative.  This Poll was produced through a partnership of Allstate, the National Journal and FTI Consulting’s Strategic Communications.  FTI Consulting surveyed 1,000 American adults (18 years and older) from May 29 to June 2nd (via landlines and cellphones).

I attended the June 13th event at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center where an array of panelists discussed and thoughtfully analyzed the Poll findings.  The Poll covered a wide-range of economic and privacy issues; it sought the respondents feelings on those topics.  All of the results are insightful but given the number of questions asked, I am focusing on only a few of the key privacy and security findings — findings that may or may not surprise you.  While some results skewed depending on age groups, not all of them did as might have been presumed.

Here are some selected highlights with the specific question(s) number noted:

  • Just over half —55%—said they feel “concerned” about the collection and use of their personal information while 43% said they feel “comfortable” (Q.15).
  • Asked whether they feel they have control over the type of information “…collected and used by businesses, government, individuals and other groups…”, 66% said they feel they have either not very much or none at all while 34% said they feel they have some or a great deal of control (Q.18).
  • A strong majority said they feel their personal information is available for businesses, government, individuals and other groups without their consent (Qs.331-33i); they also feel that their personal information is being used by these entities without their consent (Qs.34a-34i) or their knowledge (Qs.37a-37n).
  • Sixty-two percent (62%) support the use of public and private security cameras to protect against crime and terrorists (Q.47).  A smaller group —44%— would be willing to support increased camera surveillance of public places to improve national security (Q.48).  But only 10% would support expanded government monitoring of cellphone and email activities for improved national security (Q.48).
  • A solid majority believe there are positive benefits from the types and volume of personal information being collected and used.  The positive results include, for example: being able to stay in touch with family and friends; getting information about products and services tailored to their specific interests; getting better information about health risks to their families and themselves; and receiving better information about news events that could impact them (Qs.20-31).

These are just a few of the findings on an array of the Poll’s critical issues.  I urge you to read the Poll data and analysis; it can be found at: http://www.allstate.com/heartland-monitor.  Ronald Brownstein, Editorial Director, Atlantic Media, has written an excellent analysis of the Poll; his article, “So Long, Privacy” can be found in the June 15th edition of the National Journal.  Read the Poll, or Mr. Brownstein’s article, and take the time to think about how you would answer the important questions that were posed.