(UPDATE: Consumers' distrust of the National Security Agency -- and some tech companies -- runs deep. Many prefer the IRS handle their personal information. Nearly twice as many chose the IRS (35%) over NSA (18%). Google and Facebook were far behind, with 10% and 5%, respectively.
Conversely, most thought the NSA (36%) would violate their privacy, followed by Facebook (26%), the IRS (18%) and Google (12%), according to a Reason-Rupe national poll of 1,003 Americans in late March. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.6%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted the survey.)
LAS VEGAS – The National Security Agency has left more than a black mark on the reputations of tech companies: It is now hurting them financially.
Americans are less likely to bank and shop online because of lingering doubts over the NSA's digital-snooping activities.
Almost half the more than 2,000 adult respondents (47%) to a recent Harris poll commissioned by security firm ESET said that they have changed their behavior and think more carefully about where they go, say and do online.
ESET researcher Stephen Cobb says the results underscore a long-term issue for tech companies, whose sales are at risk at home and abroad because of government spying. "This problem will linger throughout 2014," he says.
If consumers follow their fears and eschew some e-commerce, they are likely to avoid less-reputable web sites and hew to well-known and trusted brands such as Amazon.com, eBay and others, says Rene Bonvanie, chief marketing officer of cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks.
"You would think the breaches at Target -- not the NSA -- would concern consumers," Bonvanie says. "Americans believe in surveillance, but not sneaky stuff."
Ultimately, the very existence of the web is at stake, cautions Dan Kaminsky, co-founder and chief scientist at WhiteOps,
"How do we make the Internet a safe place?" says Kaminsky, whose start-up is attempting to eradicate millions of bots from the web.
"The problem (bots and general distrust in the web) is so big and seemingly intractable, that we must address it or the (web) perishes," Kaminsky says.