Americans trust auto, home and life insurance companies to use their personal information responsibly -- more than they trust the government or health insurance companies, but less than they trust health care providers and employers, according to a new poll from Allstate Corp. and the National Journal.
The 17th quarterly Allstate/National Journal "Heartland Monitor Poll" investigates American attitudes about the collection and use of their personal information and how "big data" affects their personal privacy.
Here's how many people say they have "some trust" or a "great deal of trust" in the following sectors:
- 80 percent, health care providers
- 79 percent, their employer
- 71 percent, law enforcement
- 63 percent, home, auto and life insurance companies
- 63 percent, financial institutions
- 59 percent, health insurance companies
- 53 percent, the IRS
- 48 percent, the government
- 48 percent, cell phone and Internet service providers
- 37 percent, political parties
- 29 percent, the media
- 25 percent, social media sites
Eighty-five percent of Americans say they think their communications history, such as phone calls, emails and Internet use, are accessible to the government, businesses and other groups, and 66 percent say they think they have little or no control over the type of information that is collected and used. Fifty-nine percent don't think they can correct inaccurate personal information.
The survey was conducted days before disclosure of top-secret government surveillance programs.
Americans are generally uncomfortable with personal data collection, with 55 percent saying the collection and use of information is "mostly negative" and 38 percent saying it is "mostly positive."
The poll revealed a generation gap in attitudes about privacy. Among Americans 39 and younger, 46 percent see a mostly positive impact from the collection and use of personal information, and 50 percent see a mostly negative impact. Among those 40 and older, just 33 percent see a mostly positive impact, and 58 percent see a mostly negative impact.