Public ambivalent about collection and sale of personal data online 

cigi-logo25 May 2016 (Waterloo, Ontario) – A new global survey finds that while eight in ten (79%) citizens are concerned that their online information may be collected, bought and sold online, an equal number (80%) indicated the sale of personal data would not cause them to use the Internet less often.

Only a minority of respondents said their concern would change their online behaviour, such as avoiding business with certain companies (34%), subscribing to fewer services (37%), or frequenting fewer online businesses (37%). Almost half (49%) said they were unaware that their data could be collected and sold.

“In the absence of proper governance, regulatory frameworks and oversight, a feeling of ambivalence has emerged among Internet users when it comes to how their personal data is treated and used online,” said Gordon Smith, a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and Deputy Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance. “People feel they have no choice and the challenge for regulators is to give them one‎.”

The survey, conducted by global research company Ipsos, was commissioned by CIGI as part of a two-year initiative launched in partnership with Chatham House to articulate and advance a strategic vision for the future of Internet governance. The Global Commission on Internet Governance is set to deliver that vision in a forthcoming report to be released this summer.

“These poll results shed light on the reality that the Internet was not created with issues like security or privacy in mind,” said Melissa Hathaway, a CIGI distinguished fellow based in Washington and member of the Global Commission on Internet Governance. “The trust that global citizens have placed in it is a commodityeasily lost or sold within the free flow of goods, services, data, and capital on the Internet. The personal data of global citizens can and should be protected and remain private.”

The CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust polled 24,143 people in 24 countries via phone and internet between the dates of 30 November 2015 and 7 January 2016.

For more information and to see additional data collected as part of the 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, please visit: