A recent study conducted by Insights Association member companies Research Narrative and InnovateMR, on behalf of Privacy for America, reveals that nearly all Americans surveyed (92 percent) believe it is important for Congress to pass new legislation to protect consumers’ personal data, and a majority (62 percent) favor federal regulation over individual state regulations. Four out of five voters (81%) support a national standard that outright prohibits harmful ways of collecting, using and sharing personal data.
The results demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to approve a comprehensive U.S. consumer privacy law along the lines of the model federal privacy framework the Insights Association helped develop with Privacy for America.
The Privacy for America study, conducted among 1,524 Americans across a demographically representative cross-section of U.S. registered voters (August 2-17, 2021) to better understand the impact and concerns regarding the current state of privacy in the U.S., such as:
- Voters find common ground on privacy legislation: Virtually all Democrat (95.4 percent), Independent (92.0 percent) and Republican (89.3 percent) voters surveyed report that it is very or somewhat important for Congress to pass federal privacy legislation. In addition to widespread bipartisan support, there is near universal agreement across age, race and gender that passing new data privacy legislation is important.
- Voters are also more motivated to protect themselves than punish companies: Voters favor regulation that protects their data from misuse or abuse (43 percent), but their support is driven by a desire for protection rather than to punish tech companies.
- Privacy in the age of COVID is an urgent matter: For 40 percent of Americans, the desire for data privacy regulations is greater now than in the past. Leading concerns include cyber fraud and criminal activity (65 percent) and the security of digital financial activities such as online shopping, banking and bill paying (40 percent).
A significant majority of voters in the Privacy for America study reported it is either critical or important to:
- Create a national standard for all companies to follow that outlines reasonable/legal and unreasonable/illegal ways to collect, use and share personal data (81 percent);
- Give consumers more control over the data a company has about them, including the right to erase data, update or correct data, and the right to move data to another company (80 percent);
- Require companies to invest in security measures to protect against hacks or breaches (79 percent); and
- Increase fines for companies that fail to protect personal data (78 percent).
“These findings make clear that an overwhelming majority of Americans want Congress to pass nationwide privacy legislation that protects all Americans, no matter where they live,” said Stuart Ingis, advisor to the Privacy for America coalition. “In today’s highly polarized political climate, comprehensive privacy legislation is a rare bipartisan opportunity for Congress to deliver real protections for Americans and small businesses seeking to recover from the pandemic and protect the responsible use of data that drives our economy. We urge lawmakers from both parties to come together to make a national privacy law a reality in the United States.”
Howard Fienberg, CAE – The Insights Association