Oxford Uni: Privacy worries mean more people are staying offline

Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

But most people choose not to use the internet because they just aren't interested!

Oxford Uni researchers spoke to around 2,000 people and a growing number have cited anxiety about widely-reported privacy issues for not being online.

The new study shows a lack of knowledge on how to use it, is also one of the big reasons for staying off the Internet.

In 2013, when the Oxford Internet Institute's last survey was carried out, 1% of people questioned indicated that privacy worries were the reason they did not use the internet.

In 2019 that number had risen to 10%.

8% of people questioned 6 years ago also said not knowing how to use the internet was the reason - in 2019 that figure had risen to 18%.

The number of those who didn't go online because they had no interest, fell from 82% to 69% in that time.

The Oxford study also found that the lowest earners in the country remain the biggest group of non-users, with six in ten of those on an income of less than £12,500 using the internet.

Usage also declines sharply after the age of 50, the findings suggest.

Researchers are concerned that people not online are missing out on opportunities that could improve their quality of life.

"The majority of people are having positive experiences of internet use, regularly going online to watch their favourite shows or pay their utility bills," said Dr Grant Blank, survey research fellow at Oxford Internet Institute.

"However, there is a widening perception gap between internet users and non-users, with non-users resolutely avoiding the internet.

"Often these non-users are from low-income groups, where being online could potentially improve their quality of life.

"There's an interesting paradox here, with internet users being less likely to take action to protect their privacy, while non-users tend to be put off by privacy concerns.

"These concerns could perpetuate the digital divide, with many people missing out on the benefits of the internet, such as access to health information, employment opportunities and reduced prices online.

"There is a real opportunity to engage with non-users to address their concerns and help them understand the opportunities the internet can bring.

"We hope this survey contributes to the public debate about what further steps can be taken to narrow the digital divide."

Despite active internet surfers reporting positive outcomes, almost 70% said they were uncomfortable with targeted advertising and tracking data used by tech giants.

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