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Survey: Internet improves lives, but raises privacy fears
PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) -- More than 70 percent of Internet users said going online has improved their lives, according to a national survey released Wednesday.
But a wave of recent attacks against well-known Web sites directly affected almost one in ten users, sparking widespread concerns about privacy in the Internet.
More than half of the U.S. population has recently used the Internet, according to the Gallup poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday. A similar survey 15 months ago placed the figure at 47 percent.
Most respondents to the Gallup Survey, 62 percent, said they considered surfing Web sites a better use of time than surfing television channels. But 59 percent said they enjoyed TV more than the Internet.
While 72 percent of current users said the Internet bettered their lives, 26 percent said it made no difference. Only two percent said their lives become worse.
The finding contrasts with an academic study published last week that alleged that the Internet has increasingly made people more lonely and anti-social. Stanford University professor Norman Nie concluded that going online was causing people to spend less time with loved ones and more time shopping and working from home.
Hacker wave creates worries
The survey found that 9 percent of Internet users were directly affected by a flurry of hacking assaults. Many others said they have become more hesitant to disclose personal or financial information on the Internet, and are less likely to buy goods online with a credit card. Twenty percent said they were less likely to use the Internet for any reason.
Two weeks ago, computer hackers used denial-of-service attacks to overload a variety of Internet sites with a flood of fake users. Web heavyweights like Yahoo!, eBay and CNN.com were unreachable for hours.
Why do people use the Internet? According to Gallup, the reasons in order of importance are: obtain information, send or receive email, shop and visit chat rooms.
Almost half of adult Internet users said they bought goods or information online, most of them using credit cards.
The pollsters conducted telephone interviews with a random sample of just over 1,00 people 18 years and older. Almost 600 respondents said they used the Internet within the past 30 days.
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