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Users Concerned About Someone Else Reading Their Email

More than eight in 10 worry about email service providers reading their email

February 12, 2014

Three-quarters of US email users—which represent nearly all internet users in the country—are worried about someone reading their email, according to research from Virtru conducted by Harris Interactive.

Relatively few people were “extremely concerned,” while a plurality fell into the “somewhat concerned” bucket. No demographic factors, including age, income and presence of children in household, seemed to make a difference in how people felt about their email privacy.

Level of Concern US Email Users Have About Their Emails Being Read by Someone* Other than the Recipient, by Demographic, Dec 2013 (% of respondents)

Things were a bit different when it came to concerns about email service providers “reading”—via algorithms—email content. Fully 85% of people were at least somewhat concerned, with nearly one-third clocking in at “very” to “extremely” worried. But again, these concerns ran across the board—young and old, affluent and less so, most people were fairly worried about their email providers serving up contextual ads around their messages.

Level of Concern US Email Users Have About Email Providers* Using The Content of Private Messages for Targeted Ads, by Demographic, Dec 2013 (% of respondents)

US internet users are far from the only ones concerned about privacy. Internet users in Great Britain told TNS BMRB they were worried about having their searches monitored by search engines, with 55% agreeing with that statement. There fears also went far beyond search.


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