How important is data protection and privacy to Germans on the Internet?
Many Germans use the Internet to clarify their most intimate questions and concerns. A study has now examined how much they pay attention to data protection and privacy.
Road Town (British Virgin Islands). A representative survey by OnePoll on behalf of ExpressVPN examined how Germans use the Internet and how important privacy and data protection are to them. According to the responses of the 2,000 participants, over a third of Germans use the internet at least once a day to look for facts, advice and services. 17 percent even use the help from the Internet five to six times a day.
More than half of the German population (51%) prefer to use the Internet as a source of information when it comes to difficult questions, rather than turning to family and friends. Just under half (45%) of survey respondents said they use Google to find answers to questions they wouldn’t trust other people with. This trend is particularly pronounced among younger people. 51 percent of 18 to 24 year olds and 53 percent of 25 to 34 year olds have already asked Google intimate questions. In comparison, it is only 31 percent among 45 to 54 year olds and only 23 percent among 55 to 64 year olds.
Germans also “google” intimate questions
Although most searches on the web concern everyday topics such as recipes (17%), the weather (20%), travel destinations (20%) or the age of celebrities (11%), there are always queries that are more personal and intimate are nature. 16 percent of those surveyed are looking for information on physical illnesses and 11 percent on mental illnesses. Another 14 percent are looking for remedies and cures for physical ailments. The subject of sexuality plays an important role for 20 percent, while 11 percent are hoping for tips on dating and relationship issues.
Some (17%) are just uncomfortable with not knowing the answer to a certain question. However, 23 percent of those surveyed state that they cannot share certain topics with people they trust and are therefore looking for help online. It is particularly alarming that almost a quarter (24%) even fear being judged by these people.
“Our study has shown that Germans are much more open about their most intimate questions and concerns online than they are with friends and family. While they’re aware of the risk and concern that companies and platforms could see their most private information, they’re doing little about it. In doing so, they could be in control of what they show third parties about their online behavior and search history.”
Internet users care about privacy
If other people were to gain insight into their search history, this would be received differently by the respondents. A quarter of respondents (24%) would be upset, while 21% would be downright uncomfortable. 17 percent of respondents would be ashamed or embarrassed, while 10 percent would be even scared. However, a small proportion of respondents (4%) would be relieved that their secret was finally out.
Those who feel embarrassed are primarily concerned that a side of themselves will be revealed that they don’t want to show (43%). A further 29 percent fear that an image of them will emerge that does not correspond to their true personality. However, some have a not-extremely-adult-friendly search history. This affects significantly more men (45%) than women (28%).
Hardly any measures to protect privacy
According to the survey, although many Internet users regard data protection as important, only a small proportion of them implement concrete measures to protect privacy. Few internet users (16%) use their browsers’ incognito mode for intimate searches. In addition, less than half of the survey participants (48%) use a virtual private network (VPN), although according to experts at vpnreport.com this greatly improves online privacy. This is also confirmed by Harold Li, Vice President at ExpressVPN.
“People have a right to privacy online. Using a VPN can be a useful tool to ensure that businesses cannot see, log or sell online activity, such as websites visited or apps used. By taking control of what they show others about their online behavior, users are taking power back into their own hands—quickly and effectively.”