South Africa

Drop in trust on the internet

Tech Reporter

Recent findings of a 20 country Ipsos survey indicates that trust in the internet has dropped since 2019.

  In the survey, released by the New Institute in Hamburg, Germany, only six in 10 (63%) internet users included said they trust the internet, which is down by 11 percent since a similar survey in 2019. 

  The rare exception is Japan, which showed a seven percentage increase in trust. The findings reveal that internet trust shrunk by double-digits in India (-10 points), Sweden (-10), Kenya (-11), United States (-12), Canada (-14), Brazil (-18), and Poland (-26). 

  Seventy-nine percent expressed worry about their online privacy. Many expressed that internet governance is lacking. Slightly over half (57%) said the internet is effectively governed; but fewer than half in Britain (45%), the US (45%), France (41%) and Israel (34%) felt that way. In Germany internet trust fell to 61%, down nine points from 2019, which is slightly below the international average of 63%, but higher than in Canada (57%) and the US (54%). 

  Only two African countries, South Africa and Kenya were included in the study. South Africans had 63% agreeing that they trust the internet. In Kenya 70% expressed trust in the internet.

  Programme chairperson for socio-economic transformation at The New Institute, also former German Federal State Secretary for Digital Society and Consumer Policy, Dr Christian Kastrop said the survey shows distrust in the largest communication network ever created.

  “Internet users want effective policies to empower and protect them,” Dr Kastrop said. 

  Sub-Saharan Africa knowledge director Mari Harris said: “In South Africa and Kenya citizens are looking to government policies to protect them, but balance needs to be maintained between freedom of speech and stricter government policies so as not to deny freedom of information access.”  

  Amid privacy concerns and declining worldwide trust, internet users call for new regulations to strengthen online privacy. They also want better control over how their personal data is collected and used.

  Respondents indicated that effective policies should include protection of user privacy (65%); users’ personal data (65%); establishment of standards detailing how internet companies collect and use user data (62%); and

establishment of policies allowing users to control their own data (62%). 


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