- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Maybe it can be blamed on alarming media coverage. Maybe not.

“Between revelations of government snooping, consumer data breaches, and social media experiments, it can be tough to trust anyone with your personal information these days,” says Larry Shannon-Massal, manager of Harris Poll content.

Naturally, there are numbers.

Harris finds that 60 percent of Americans don’t trust the federal government to handle personal information confidentially and securely - a sentiment that has grown by eight percentage points in the past year alone. The number was just over half five years ago.

“Americans have also grown more mistrustful of state and local governments in this regard from 44 percent in 2009 to 54 percent this year,” he says.

There’s a partisan divide here, though.

“Americans’ attitudes toward the government tend to fluctuate greatly along political lines, and this issue is no different: majorities of Republicans and Independents don’t trust either the federal government (71 percent Republicans, 66 percent independents) or state and local governments (60 percent and 61 percent , respectively) to handle their personally identified information in a properly confidential and secure manner,” the poll states.

“On the other hand, majorities of Democrats do trust both the federal government (56 percent) and state/local governments (60 percent) to do so.”

Social media ranks at the bottom of the list, however. About a quarter of Americans trust Twitter, Facebook and other chatty place with their information.

“So, who do Americans trust to properly handle this type of information?

Majorities trust doctors and health providers (76 percent), major online retailers (70 percent) like Amazon,  banks/brokerage companies (65 percent), small retailers (64 percent), big chain retailers (59 percent) and independent online retailers (52 percent, the Harris findings say.

The poll of 2,306 U.S. adults was released Friday.