Brexiters And Bremainers Also Divided On Rights To Online Privacy


New research shows EU Referendum voters are also deeply divided along the same lines over “Nothing to hide, Nothing to fear” privacy argument.

Research by the Online Privacy Foundation shows that UK citizens who voted in favour of Leaving the EU were significantly more likely than their Remain-voting counterparts to agree with the statement “With regards to Internet privacy, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to fear.” In fact, if a voter strongly agreed with the statement, they were almost twice as likely to have voted Leave as someone who disagreed with the statement.

The findings suggest that Brexit supporters are far more likely than Remain supporters to support the Investigatory Powers Bill proposed by the UK Government and dubbed the ‘Snoopers Charter’. The Bill is part of the policy agenda of the new UK Prime Minister, Theresa May. It would give the Government bulk powers to record and collect citizens’ online history. The Bill also permits UK law enforcement agencies to remotely monitor and hack computers and smartphones for national security matters.

The Online Privacy Foundation study also found that:

  • Leave voters score higher on the scale of Right Wing Authoritarianism, a trait found to be associated with the acceptance of reductions in civil liberties in order to combat real or perceived threats such as terrorism. The higher someone scores on the Right Wing Authoritarian scale, the more likely they were to agree with the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” argument.
  • Remain voters tended to disagree with the statement across all age groups, while Leave voters’ tendency to agree with the statement increased as they got older.

According to Chris Sumner, researcher and co-founder of the Online Privacy Foundation, “It unsurprising that there’s a link between attitudes to Privacy and Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA). Previous studies have found that people high on RWA tend to be more hostile towards anyone or anything which they perceive as a threat to group or societal integrity.”

“Younger people are far less likely to agree with the statement, but arguably have the most to lose. It would appear that the battle lines on this debate, just like the EU Referendum, pitch roughly the same discernible segments of society against another,” Sumner said.

“The ‘Nothing to Fear’ argument is a gross over-simplification as it presupposes that you know what information is being captured and how it’s being interpreted. Our previous research in determining personality traits from social media use highlight the problem of false positives; what you do on the internet can be easily misinterpreted and used against you.”

The findings are from a series of Facebook studies conducted by ‘The Online Privacy Foundation’ which examined the psychological biases, personality traits and attitudes of 11,517 voters in the UK’s Referendum on EU membership.

One thought on “Brexiters And Bremainers Also Divided On Rights To Online Privacy

  • July 15, 2016 at 11:03 am

    This is understandable, given the profile of the “Leave” voters (mostly less educated, rural or ex-industrial-urban, older, socially conservation … and therefore much more prone to propaganda and manipulation (of which there was a-plenty)).
    However, “snooper’s charter” type decisions will take place in the cool atmosphere of Parliament (not in far less democratically mature plebiscite), where there was / is overwhelming support for “Remain”, and therefore likely to be strong opposition to increasing state-intrusive measures.


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