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NTIA Shares Insights on Internet Research at TPRC

September 29, 2016 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Tomorrow, policy staff from NTIA will be participating in an annual policy research conference where they will be discussing important research about Americans’ computer and Internet use habits. They will be presenting two working papers at the 44th Research Conference on Communications, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), an annual conference on information, communications, and technology policy, which brings together researchers, policymakers, and advocates from the public, academic, and private sectors. These papers shed light on important policy issues relying on data collected though NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS Supplement).

In the first working paper, Trust in Internet Privacy and Security and Online Activity, NTIA staff used data from the most recent CPS Supplement, which included questions on household privacy and security concerns, to identify certain indicators of distrust in security online. Their analysis reveals that Internet-using households with either serious concerns with Internet privacy or prior experiences with a security breach or harassment were more likely to report that they refrained from a range of online activities, after controlling for other factors.

Digitally Unconnected in the U.S.: Who’s Not Online and Why?

September 28, 2016 by Maureen Lewis, Director, Minority Telecommunications Development, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

When she announced the Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Agenda a year ago, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker emphasized that broadband Internet access and digital skills are critical to the economy’s success.  The digital marketplace has created millions of new jobs in the United States. Digitally connected Americans are the modern workers, creative innovators, and new customers who will help sustain our nation’s global competitiveness. 

But what about those Americans who do not use the Internet? Whether by circumstance or by choice, millions of U.S. households are not online, and thus unable to meaningfully participate in the digital economy. Data from NTIA’s July 2015 Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey confirm that the digital divide persists. In 2015, 33 million households (27 percent of all U.S. households) did not use the Internet at home, where families can more easily share Internet access and conduct sensitive online transactions privately.  Significantly, 26 million households—one-fifth of all households—were offline entirely, lacking a single member who used the Internet from any location in 2015.

Reasons for No Internet Use at Home

The State of the Urban/Rural Digital Divide

August 10, 2016 by By Edward Carlson, Policy Analyst, and by Justin Goss, Intern, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

While 75 percent of Americans reported using the Internet in July 2015, the longstanding disparity between urban and rural users persists and has emerged in the adoption of new technologies such as the smartphone and social media, according to the latest computer and Internet use data collected for NTIA. This suggests that in spite of advances in both policy and technology, the barriers to Internet adoption existing in rural communities are complex and stubborn. In particular, Americans who were otherwise less likely to use the Internet—such as those with lower levels of family income or education—faced an even larger disadvantage when living in a rural area. Conversely, rural individuals with higher levels of education or family income did not have significantly lower adoption rates than their urban counterparts, according to the data. The data comes from NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

View of the Rural Divide

 

Figure 1: Internet Use from Any Location by Population Density
Percent of Americans Ages 3+, 1998-2015

Figure 1: Internet Use from Any Location by Population Density Percent of Americans Ages 3+, 1998-2015

 

New Insights into the Emerging Internet of Things

June 15, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg and Travis Hall, Policy Analysts, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

From Internet-connected fitness bands and watches to security systems and thermostats, Americans are beginning to use Internet-connected devices, appliances, and objects that are part of a growing category of technology known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

The latest computer and Internet use data collected for NTIA shows that the number of Americans using IoT devices is still small. But we are seeing an interesting snapshot of early adopters. These new insights into how Americans are utilizing IoT are drawn from data collected in July 2015 as part of our Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. As we previously noted in April, few Americans—just 1 percent—reported using a wearable, Internet-connected device, such as a fitness band or watch, as of July 2015. While the market for this type of device is clearly in its early stages, we found notable differences between early adopters of wearable technology and the population as a whole (see Figure 1). Unsurprisingly, wearable device users exhibited many characteristics associated with higher levels of computer and Internet use. Wearable device users tended to have higher education and family income levels compared with all Americans, and they were more likely to live in metropolitan areas.

Lack of Trust in Internet Privacy and Security May Deter Economic and Other Online Activities

May 13, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Every day, billions of people around the world use the Internet to share ideas, conduct financial transactions, and keep in touch with family, friends, and colleagues. Users send and store personal medical data, business communications, and even intimate conversations over this global network. But for the Internet to grow and thrive, users must continue to trust that their personal information will be secure and their privacy protected.

NTIA’s analysis of recent data shows that Americans are increasingly concerned about online security and privacy at a time when data breaches, cybersecurity incidents, and controversies over the privacy of online services have become more prominent. These concerns are prompting some Americans to limit their online activity, according to data collected for NTIA in July 2015 by the U.S. Census Bureau. This survey included several privacy and security questions, which were asked of more than 41,000 households that reported having at least one Internet user.

Commerce Brings Stakeholders Together to Improve Digital Economy Metrics

May 09, 2016 by Guest blog post by Dr. Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Chief Economist and Alan Davidson, Director of Digital Economy

Improving Digital Economy MetricsToday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) convened a roundtable to discuss what data is needed to better measure the economic importance of the cross-border information flows that connect people and businesses across the globe. Representatives from the government, private sector, academia, and public interest community spent the morning going through existing resources, identifying gaps, and evaluating what the Commerce Department could be doing to improve its digital economy metrics.

The Internet has connected people around the world in new ways through the free flow of information across borders. In 2014, approximately 56 percent of services exports and 50 percent of U.S. services imports were digitally deliverable. Modern day companies of all sizes are relying on cross-border data flows for their day to day operations. This includes the ability to access global markets, interact with customers across the globe, find new suppliers, and communicate with their overseas affiliates. For example, of 271 tech‐enabled startups surveyed by 1776 and the McKinsey Global Institute, 86 percent had at least one cross‐border activity. People are using cross-border data flows to access knowledge, communicate, and participate in electronic commerce.

Evolving Technologies Change the Nature of Internet Use

April 19, 2016 by Giulia McHenry, Chief Economist, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Americans’ rapid move toward mobile Internet service appears to be coming at the expense of home broadband connections, according to the latest computer and Internet use data released by NTIA. At the same time, many Americans are using a wider range of computing devices in their daily lives. Both of these findings suggest that technological changes are driving a profound shift in how Americans use the Internet, which may be opening a new digital divide based on the use of particular types of devices and Internet services.  These results come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which includes data collected for NTIA in July 2015 from nearly 53,000 households.

Mobile Internet service appears to be competing more directly with wired Internet connections. According to the data, three-quarters of American households using the Internet at home in 2015 still used wired technologies for high-speed Internet service, including cable, DSL, and fiber-optic connections. However, this represents a sizable drop in wired home broadband use, from 82 percent of online households in July 2013 to 75 percent two years later. Over this same period, the data also shows that the proportion of online households that relied exclusively on mobile service at home doubled between 2013 and 2015, from 10 percent to 20 percent (see Figure 1).

First Look: Internet Use in 2015

March 21, 2016 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

As the Obama Administration continues to focus on expanding broadband access and adoption, NTIA released new data today that shows that some of the demographic groups that have historically lagged behind in using the Internet—such as senior citizens, minorities, and Americans with lower levels of educational attainment—are making big strides.

Particularly promising, Internet use increased significantly among children and older Americans between 2013 and 2015. Children between the ages of 3 and 14 became substantially more likely to go online, as Internet use among this group increased from 56 percent in 2013 to 66 percent in 2015, and Internet use among those aged 65 or older increased from 51 percent to 56 percent during the same period. In contrast, usage remained largely unchanged among those who were previously most likely to go online, with 83 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 reporting Internet use in both 2013 and 2015.

The latest data comes from the Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS), which included nearly 53,000 households and was conducted for NTIA by the U.S. Census Bureau in July 2015. The large sample size provides a detailed picture of where, why and how Americans go online.

Data Preview: What's New in the July 2015 CPS Computer and Internet Use Supplement

January 13, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

In July 2015, NTIA commissioned the Census Bureau to conduct the latest Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). NTIA uses this survey to help understand why, where, and how Americans use the Internet, as well as what barriers stand in the way of effective Internet use.

We are awaiting the results of the latest survey, which has been significantly redesigned to fit the changing technological landscape.  NTIA has developed a more person-centric survey instrument, as opposed to household-centric questioning, that gathers data on the range of devices people use, the places they are used, and how they are used.

We increased the flexibility of the survey instrument by making it easier to add device, location, and online activity categories while preserving our ability to track changes over time. We’re taking advantage of the new structure by asking Americans about wearable devices for the first time, as well as whether they use the Internet to interact with household equipment, like a connected thermostat or security system.

We also reserved space in the survey to ask questions about policy issues. In 2015, we gathered data on privacy and security by asking how frequently households have been affected by data breaches, whether privacy or security concerns have hampered online activities, and what people are most worried about when it comes to online privacy and security risks.

Majority of Americans Use Multiple Internet-connected Devices, Data Shows

December 07, 2015 by Giulia McHenry, Chief Economist, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

For many Americans, the days of connecting to the Internet solely through a stationary desktop computer are over. Going online now means shopping on a tablet, using a PlayStation to watch movies, or checking email on a smartphone.

In just a two-year span, between 2011 and 2013, Americans significantly shifted their Internet usage habits, moving toward more mobile Internet use and increasing the range of devices they use to connect, according to data collected in July 2013 as part of NTIA’s Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. A majority of Americans — 52 percent — used two or more Internet-connected devices, the data shows. That’s up from 41 percent in July 2011. Americans are using a wide variety of devices to access the Internet, including tablets, laptops, mobile phones, and TV-connected boxes such as gaming consoles or streaming video players.

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