Worries about identity theft and spyware are making U.S. voters wary of the internet and they want Congress to do more to protect them online, according to a recent survey.
The survey, conducted for the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) by Pineda Consulting, queried 1,003 voters by phone last month. CSIA is an industry advocacy group of security vendors.
A whopping 97 percent rated identity theft as a serious problem while 93 percent cited spyware as troublesome. A particularly "stunning" result, according to CSIA executive director Paul Kurtz, was the 48 percent who said they avoid making purchases on the internet out of fear that their financial data might be stolen.
Sixty-four percent of all respondents - Democrats and Republicans alike - said the government needs to make cybersecurity a higher priority. Seventy-one percent said new laws are needed to protect consumer privacy on the web.
Despite the results, CSIA does not believe the survey "calls for a mandate to achieve cybersecurity through regulation," Kurtz said in a conference call Wednesday.
Rather, the group advocates a comprehensive approach that includes high security standards from companies, working with consumer groups, and tough punishment of internet criminals.
"We should look closely at existing law and how it might be used to improve security," he said. "If Congress is going to act, we encourage it to look at existing laws and fill in the gaps."
Earlier this week, the Liberty Alliance, a consortium working to develop an open standard for federated network identity, branched out with a new effort to fight identity theft.