As of 2019, the threat to online privacy comes from several different directions. In the United States, 81 percent of online users felt that their data was very or somewhat vulnerable to hackers. Disclosure of sensitive personal data such as credit card information or social security number, which can lead to stolen identities and financial damages, is the most common fear of internet users. During a March 2019 survey, 22 percent of U.S. online users stated that saving sensitive data online was not secure enough for them and a further 40 percent stated that they were concerned about their online data being misused.
Another source of worry for internet users has increasingly been the involvement of various governments in the online activities of their nationals. In the United States, such fears were furthered during the 2013 leak of operational details about the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners' global surveillance of foreign nationals and U.S. citizens.
A sizeable number of worldwide internet users and IT professionals do not believe that governments should have access to encrypted information systems and many online users have adopted specific online strategies to hide their information from the government. Only 24 percent of global online users trust their government “a lot” regarding the management and protection of personal information. National security agencies, on the other hand, justify their right to access personal user data considering terrorist threats of the past years and are pushing tech manufacturers to build in special codes allowing access in case of suspicious behavior. In light of these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that during a February 2019 survey, 66 percent of online users stated that they were increasingly concerned about their online privacy due to their own government. Overall, 49 percent of respondents in Europe were very or somewhat aware of their domestic data protection and privacy regulations but only 29 percent of respondents from North America stated the same.
Another increasing worry in the online medium is malicious use or publication (doxxing) of personal information intended to humiliate, harass or in other ways damage someone’s reputation. During a December 2018 survey it was found that 21 percent of online harassment victims had experienced online harassment due to their political views, with further 20 percent reporting falling victim to online hate because of their gender. With severe harassment such as physical threats and sexual harassment becoming increasingly more common online, it is no surprise that most online users want to keep identifying information private.
Despite these online privacy concerns, a large share of online users is willing to accept certain privacy risks in favor of convenience.