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New study reveals impact of NSA leaks

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter, who leaked Snowden’s NSA documents last year, continues to leak NSA documents from his editorial post at First Look Media. He penned on Monday that the NSA stages ‘leaks’ to compliant reporters to manipulate the public’s emotions through a process of ‘fear mongering.’

Keith Alexander Testifies At Armed Services Hearing
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

­Harris conducted a poll for ESET, the multi-device security firm, on February 4-6 among 2,034 U.S. adults age 18 and older. ESET has released the survey findings today on their website. Stephen Cobb, ESET Senior Security Researcher, summarizes how the NSA revelations are impacting online commerce of banking and shopping in America and continued negatively by ongoing revelations about the National Security Agency’s digital surveillance activities.

The poll was conducted to determine what proportion of Americans are aware of the recent NSA government surveillance news, their opinions and thoughts on tech companies’ roles and any changes in their online activity due to NSA news items.

Senior Security Researcher, Stephen Cobb, suggests in his summary that it is not a bad effect that online use is utilized with more care and attention to security. It is difficult for retail and banking to determine completely the effects of this type of disruption in online activity. Last fall ESET had conducted a smaller poll which gave an indication of the change in online technology practices by consumers.

The results from the February poll are significant that 47% of the adults polled responded that they have changed their behavior and think more carefully about their activity online. This caution has for 26% of the respondents a decrease in online shopping and banking.

The impact is even greater with the 18-34 age group of whom there is 33% with a decrease in online activity vs. the 26% overall. Women are the next group who has reduced online activity with 29% of respondents claiming a reduction vs. the overall 26% in the poll.

Replacing human interaction with electronic contact shows that of the respondents 24% have reduced their email correspondence due to what they have learned of the government surveillance activities.

The sectors of healthcare, education and government will have a more difficult time of using electronic correspondence as originally forecast as contraction was higher in the 18-34 age group as 33% of the group will limit electronic transactions. Previous plans of utilizing the Internet for communication to these sectors for increasing the flow of contact and reducing costs of time and other expenses is now in jeopardy.

Based upon the comparison of this survey vs. last fall the caution has increased along with increased NSA revelations. Cobb writes in his article that if NSA revelations continue and it is hard to predict if we have seen the extent of the full impact of the revelations, then major shifts in behavior will continue.

Cobb posts that, ‘if government reassurances fail to impress the public, then it is possible that the trends in behavior we are seeing right now will continue.' Reassurances from the government and Obama have failed to alter public opinion and reaction to the situation.

Obama’s announced plans last week to transfer phone records to private companies has shown criticism and little enthusiasm to reassure Americans. The significance of the paradigm shift in public opinion to government and surveillance activities have caused a major change in behavior going forward to effect activity. Cobb summarizes the impact of the NSA revelations as follows:

‘And in case anyone is tempted to think that this is a narrow issue of concern only to news junkies and security geeks, let me be clear: according to this latest survey, 85% of adult Americans are now at least somewhat familiar with the news about secret government surveillance of private citizens’ phone calls, emails, online activity, and so on.’

According to Glenn Greenwald he will continue to write articles as he did on Monday calling out the NSA and its activities. The statement on Greenwald's 'Intercept' site for First Media is, 'our NSA coverage will be comprehensive, innovative and multi-faceted. We have a team of experienced editors and journalists devoted to the story. We will use all forms of digital media for our reporting. In addition, we will publish primary source documents on which our reporting is based.'

To find more articles related to this topic view list below in Author's suggestions and the WSJ video atop this article on metadata collection and recent update.

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