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Americans worried about data privacy and election security, biometric voting support grows

Categories Biometrics News  |  Elections


Just over a quarter of Americans say they have more control over their personal data than they did a year ago (28 percent), according to new survey results released by nCipher Security, but almost as many (26 percent) say they have less control, or none at all.

The survey by the Entrust Datacard subsidiary shows that concerns about data security cross over to election security, with one in three less confidant about the election security in the country than in 2016. With the election looming later in the year, 41 percent of Americans express concern about tampering with voter registration information, more than a third worry about possible interference by a domestic government official or political parties, or by other countries. Voting systems are antiquated and insecure, according to 37 percent.

Addressing that lack of election security may involve biometrics, with 46 percent saying fingerprint voter verification would enhance security, and 29 percent identifying facial recognition as a way to improve security. Encrypted ballots (31 percent), encrypted voter registration data (33 percent), or even security questions (27 percent) were also suggested, while 24 percent say duplicate electronic and paper ballots could be trusted to secure voting.

“The stakes are getting higher in cybersecurity and data privacy. The California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect in January, giving some people a greater sense of control over their personal data. However, privacy and cybersecurity concerns related to the 2020 election are growing as the primaries begin and November inches closer,” states Peter Galvin, chief strategy officer at nCipher Security. “Meanwhile, biometrics like fingerprints and facial recognition make data even more personal. These factors are sounding alarms for consumers, businesses and government over the state of cybersecurity and data privacy.”

While 46 percent of U.S. adults believe they have the same amount of control over their digital personal data as they did a year ago, 40 percent believe having the ability to delete data, which is a feature of new data privacy laws, increases their trust. When a company uses encryption, 49 percent say they trust that their personal data is safe.

The survey also confirms often-repeated observations about password resets being common, password hygiene being weak, and managing traditional log-ins being frustrating.

A majority of people surveyed are also willing to accept some degree of data risk for the convenience of online shopping, online banking, and digital payments, though that acceptance dips below half for online tax payments (47 percent). A majority are unwilling to accept personal data privacy risk for online voting (54 percent).

Trust in government to safeguard personal data seems to have declined, however, with 30 percent saying they have less trust in the government’s ability to protect their information, while 17 percent said they have no faith in government data protection at all.

As data privacy regulations like CCPA evolve, organizations are expected to turn to artificial intelligence in large numbers to meet compliance requirements, according to a report from Gartner.

Only 5 percent of privacy compliance currently in user leverages AI, but 40 percent will by 2023. In 2022, global spending on privacy compliance will reach $8 billion, according to the announcement.

“Privacy laws, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), presented a compelling business case for privacy compliance and inspired many other jurisdictions worldwide to follow,” says Bart Willemsen, research vice president at Gartner.

“More than 60 jurisdictions around the world have proposed or are drafting postmodern privacy and data protection laws as a result. Canada, for example, is looking to modernize their Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), in part to maintain the adequacy standing with the EU post-GDPR.”

Technology is necessary to meet the challenge and cost of bringing all processing of personal data under scope and control of the organization, Gartner says, motivating the adoption of AI-powered applications to reduce administrative burdens and manual workloads. Handling subject rights requests (SRRs) is the primary concern of organizations to ensure user experiences with privacy are positive, yet the 2019 Gartner Security and Risk Survey suggests many are not capable of returning fast and accurate responses to SRRs. SRR workflows, which are often done manually, cost an average of $1,400.

“The privacy-driven technology market is still emerging,” adds Willemsen. “What is certain is that privacy, as a conscious and deliberate discipline, will play a considerable role in how and why vendors develop their products. As AI turbocharges privacy readiness by assisting organizations in areas like SRR management and data discovery, we’ll start to see more AI capabilities offered by service providers.”

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