Yesterday, Network member Lee Rainie discussed Americans’ views on privacy with Ari Shapiro for NPR’s All Things Considered. In a discussion inspired by the controversy surrounding the Apple’s refusal to build a “backdoor” so that the FBI can access the personal data found on an iPhone, Rainie shared insights from a recent Pew Research Center report on privacy and information sharing.
Rainie highlighted the complexity of Americans’ views on privacy, especially considering the impetus for the current controversy: aiding in an investigation into a terrorist attack with many casualties on U.S soil.
“The context of the questions and the context of just people’s lives as they’re answering questions about privacy make a lot of difference in how they answer. When there’s a very vivid case in the news that people are concentrated on, their general tendency is to give a little bit of more support to law enforcement and security issues than to personal privacy issues.”
He went on to discuss the challenge that these complex views place on policymakers:
“Most Americans are in a very conditional and contingent frame of mind when they ponder these issues. So it’s a really complicated environment for policymakers to try to sort out because Americans are not binary in their thinking about privacy. It’s not all always about privacy or always about disclosure. Sometimes people want to protect their data, sometimes they’re willing to share it and sometimes they’re willing to let companies and the government collect their data. So it’s a very complicated set of opinions for policymakers and people who run privacy policies to navigate through.”