Study Shows Growing Mistrust In Government Data Collection

It’s no secret. We’re living in tense times. The country is more divided than ever before. But if there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s this: Whether we’re on the left or right, many of us don’t trust the government or big corporations.

This is especially true when it comes to collected data. A recent study on data privacy was completed in October 2023 by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan think tank located in Washington D.C.

The study gave an eye-opening glimpse into the pulse of the nation. There were several key points of the study that point to a concerning trend.

For instance, from 2019 to 2023, the percentage of Republican or Republican-leaning adults who are concerned about the way the government uses data collected on them, spiked from 63% to 77%.

In terms of AI usage, over 80% of people polled for the study said that the information collected by artificial intelligence would be either used in ways that people aren’t comfortable with, or in ways that conflict with how AI was originally meant to be used.

Finally the mistrust in social media executives to keep user data safe is unsurprising. Over 70% of people believe that social media leaders won’t publicly admit fault, keep data confidential, or hold their company accountable for mistakes.

You can see the full Pew Research Center report on data privacy below. But be warned: It’s not a reassuring sight, folks.

Mistrusting the government’s data collection is just a small part of things, though. Another Pew Research Center study done in September 2023 gave an overview of how many Americans don’t trust the government in general. 84% of respondents don’t trust the government at all, with 16% trusting the government. Of the people who trust the government, only 4% say the system works.

Trusting the government — or not — seems to go hand in hand with how the economy is doing. In addition to that, people are more likely to pay attention to politics when they feel like the country is doing well. That’s the position of Lauren Wright, a Research Scholar, and Lecturer in Public Affairs at Princeton University.

“When it comes down to it, when the economy is doing great, when Americans feel that their future is full of prosperity, when they’re optimistic, they maybe have more bandwidth to pay attention to politics,” Wright said.

“But when they’re really struggling, it’s not always rational to pay attention to national politics. When they’re answering these questions on the survey, they’re thinking about that other party that they really have a distaste for at least, and a hatred for at most, and how bad of a job they are doing.”

This country is at its strongest when people can trust that their elected officials have their best interests at heart. But with November 5, 2024 just under eight months away, the mistrust in our government seems like it will only grow as we get closer and closer to Election Day.