Survey shows EU citizens are concerned about online safety

In a new EU study, over 30% of citizens said they were concerned about their online data being misused by companies, governments, or cybercriminals. 

The survey, which was carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, was published last week and was based on responses of 35,000 citizens of the EU, the UK, and North Macedonia. 

The study found that nearly a third – 31% – of citizens in the EU were worried about their data being accessed by corporations without their permission. 

This was closely followed by fears over foreign governments gaining access to information. The biggest concern for the public, however, was that information shared online or on social media could be maliciously accessed by criminals, with 55% of respondents highlighting this. 

In addition, a quarter of all those that took part said they were concerned about the possibility of online banking fraud, and 23% of respondents from Germany said they had experienced some kind of cyber harassment.  

As part of Germany’s leadership in the rotating EU Council presidency, it has made plans to clamp down on hate speech and online abuse by introducing additional security measures. 

The Commission’s Security Union Strategy hopes to increase security against online security threats and boost people’s online safety. 

This strategy was released on Friday and sets out new plans for the period 2020 to 2025, with an increased focus on priority areas like combatting terrorism and crime, as well as detecting threats to cybersecurity and ensuring internet users’ security online. 

However, it’s unclear whether this will help gain the confidence of the public. Concern among EU citizens is growing, and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently rejected a new EU-US Privacy Shield agreement, which would have guaranteed secure data transmission between European and the US. 

The ECJ argued that the agreements wouldn’t provide enough protection for information that was sent from European citizens due to surveillance laws in the US covering foreign data.

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