Americans are more worried about terrorism, contagions and identity theft than Internet security, according to a twice-yearly security survey by Unisys.
But it would seem that identity theft and Internet security are one and the same these days. So much so that the White House, over the weekend, announced the launch of a governmentwide panel on privacy and Internet policy.
Most of the U.S. population thinks the president should have the power to take over the Internet in the event of a coordinated cyber attack, based on the findings of the Unisys U.S. Security Index, which was released on Wednesday.
Perhaps Americans equate cyber war to terrorism?
On a 300-point scale of least to greatest concern, Internet security came in at 114, personal security was 132, financial security was 147 and national security rated 151.
The index randomly polled 1,004 American adults over the phone this August to gauge their feelings about national security (wars and outbreaks of illness); financial security (fraud and debt); Internet security (malicious online transactions); and personal security (individual safety and breaches of private information).
Acknowledging concerns about online services that violate public safety, Obama administration officials said the new Subcommittee on Privacy and Internet Policy, composed of officials from Cabinet-level agencies, will work to establish consensus among Congress, the executive branch and trading partners on online civil liberties.
"The public policy direction developed by the subcommittee will be closely synchronized to privacy practices in federal departments and agencies," Commerce General Counsel Cameron Kerry and Christopher Schroeder, assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said Oct. 24 in announcing the panel on the White House blog. "The subcommittee will endeavor to strike the appropriate balance between the privacy expectations of consumers and the needs of industry, law enforcement and other public-safety governmental entities, and other Internet stakeholders."
The creation of the subcommittee comes at a time when privacy activists are criticizing a push by the FBI to get Congress to make Internet wiretapping easier.