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We stand on the precipice of a new era of technological progress and innovation with the potential to enable us to do things never before possible, vastly improve the quality of life for billions around the globe, and help solve some of our world’s most intractable problems. But it is becoming increasingly clear that we risk missing or delaying these transformational opportunities if people lack the foundational trust in the technologies needed to deliver them.

This paper combines timely new survey research with existing studies to probe the various dimensions of today’s trust gap, explores the way it is impeding important digital progress, highlights the key factors which must be overcome, and explores the vast opportunities that can be achieved when we do.

In brief, the survey found:

  • American consumers are very concerned about protecting their privacy and security.
  • Concerns about the privacy of their personal data is a key determining factor when choosing whether to use a software application.
  • There is a cybersecurity gap. Despite nearly all respondents registering a concern about being hacked, only about half indicated they were taking even the most basic cyber hygiene practices to protect themselves.
  • Among efforts to advance the ball, users want companies to do even more to build-in privacy and security in order to keep their data private and their devices secure.

Many of these same concerns are also shared by Europeans, according to a survey conducted earlier this year by the Munich Security Conference, a German think tank.

These survey results, when combined with other insights and research, highlight the need for pragmatic policy choices and provide a potential pathway for advancing trusted frameworks that can facilitate comprehensive action toward a more trusted digital future.

Today, trust in technology has fallen to an all-time low. People are increasingly concerned about being able to protect their privacy, safety, and security online. They are concerned about inclusiveness, accountability, and whether tomorrow’s digital ecosystem will be better than today’s. It has led to an enormous and challenging trust gap – the vast gap between the ever-accelerating digital-driven opportunities just over the horizon, and the foundational confidence in privacy, security, safety, and inclusion necessary to enable society to reap its many rewards. If we want to advance a more trusted future, it is clear we need to take a more holistic approach to the challenges we face in order to capitalize on the life-changing opportunities on the horizon:

  • We need the ability to trust that the technologies we use are secure by design. Security needs to be a foundational design element built into systems at every level. This will foster agile solutions across the ecosystem that embrace best practice standards, enable continuous innovation in cyber-defenses, advance globally recognized frameworks, and should be underpinned by smart government policies to keep personal and business data secure and our economy moving forward.
  • We need the ability to trust that our privacy is protected as a basic digital right. The exponential growth of personal data has elevated the need for a more trusted digital ecosystem where users have the tools they need to control their own data.
  • We need the ability to trust that the internet is safe for ourselves and for those we love. As more of our lives move online, especially at a younger age, we need real and modern safeguards that can protect us from malicious, fraudulent, and unethical actors that seek to deceive, harm, or exploit our trust.
  • We need the ability to trust that our future is more equitable and inclusive. Technology can be a powerful opportunity equalizer but only if it is inclusive by design, conceived and built by a more diverse group of innovators, overcomes historical biases, and is used to build a more just and equitable world.
  • We need the ability to trust that the technologies of tomorrow will be even better than today. Building a foundational layer of trust into our technological future is a prerequisite for harnessing innovation for a more equitable economy and solving key societal challenges. In a trusted future, the next life-changing breakthroughs are not simply connecting new kinds of devices to the internet, but rather connecting people to new kinds of opportunities. 

Trusted Future is coming together around a shared belief that we need smarter, more pragmatic efforts to help tackle today’s challenges, restore trust in the digital ecosystem, and expand our opportunities for tomorrow. Because of the near-ubiquity of technology in our daily lives, we need to take a more holistic view of the technology landscape across software, devices, networks, and the cloud, and build a trust framework that encompasses privacy, security, inclusion, and opportunity. Our policy choices must also be assessed through a similarly holistic lens in order to examine the linkages across these issues to ensure that progress in one area does not undermine trust in another.

A future of previously unthinkable opportunities to improve our lives and advance the common good must be based on building and elevating trust. We are coming together to advance that Trusted Future.