Personal data is our most valuable asset, but we've given it away to powerful corporations

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Deep Dive: Data Privacy

Special report: Inside the mass invasion of your privacy

Illustration of black and white photo broken up into pieces
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The grand bargain of the digital age, in which consumers have traded their data for free services, is coming apart. And it may be too late to regain control of the personal data that's been bought, sold and leaked all over the web for the past three decades. 

Why it matters: If information is power, our lackadaisical approach to safeguarding details about our lives has made a handful of companies more powerful than we ever expected, and it's made consumers more vulnerable than ever.

A growing majority now views our online privacy as a crisis

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll conducted March 5-6, 2019 among 2,122 U.S. adults. Total margin of error is ±3.5 percentage points; Poll methodology; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Most consumers (58%) think the threat to online privacy is a crisis, an uptick from last June when consumers were more evenly split.

Young people are more willing to accept things as they are, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.

  • 18–24-year-old are most split with only 1 percentage point separating those who accept some risks (48%) and those who want to force change (47%).
  • But for those 65 and older, 62% say the current situation is a crisis.

Methodology : These data are from a SurveyMonkey online poll conducted among adults ages 18 and older in the United States. Respondents were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. The survey was conducted March 5-6, 2019 among 2,122 adults. The modeled error estimate for the full sample is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and full crosstabs are available here.

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