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Survey: Many Americans say 'Big Brother' is here

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 13, 2013 at 2:55 pm •  Published: June 13, 2013
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NEW YORK (AP) — There's little wonder why George Orwell's novel "1984" is seeing a resurgence in sales.

More than half of Americans polled in a survey released Thursday said they agreed with the statement "We are really in the era of Big Brother."

The survey from the University of Southern California was conducted last year, before recent revelations of large-scale, secret government surveillance programs. Yet it still found that some 35 percent of respondents agreed that "There is no privacy, get over it."

A growing number of Internet users said they are concerned about the government checking on their online activities, according to the survey. But even more people were worried about businesses doing the same.

The USC Annenberg School's Center for the Digital Future has polled more than 2,000 U.S. households about their Internet and technology use each year, with the exception of 2011, since 1999.

Forty-three percent of Internet users said they are concerned about the government checking what they do online, up from 38 percent in 2010. But 57 percent said they were worried about private companies doing the same thing — up from 48 percent in the earlier study.

A 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center found that almost three-quarters of Americans are concerned that businesses are collecting too much information about people like them, while 64 percent had the same worry about the government.

In addition to their views on privacy, the most recent report also found that 86 percent of Americans are online, up from 82 percent in 2010. That's the highest level in the study's history and further evidence of how central the Internet has become in American's lives, especially in the age of mobile devices.

"We find that people almost never lose their mobile phone," said Jeff Cole, author of the study and director of the center. "They can drop it in the gutter, have it stolen but leave it on the table at a restaurant — most of us don't even get through the front door before noticing it."

More than half of the Internet users surveyed said they go online using a mobile device, up from a third who said the same thing in 2010. As expected, texting is becoming increasingly important for people of all ages — 82 percent of mobile phone users text, up from 62 percent in 2010 and 31 percent in 2007.

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