Amid revelations last week of widespread National Security Agency (NSA) attempts to circumvent the encryption of American consumers’ sensitive and private data, Pew released a new study on Internet anonymity, privacy and security. Among the report’s findings, 86% of Americans “have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints—ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email.” More than half (55%) “have taken steps to avoid observation by specific people, organizations, or the government.”
The World Economic Forum released its annual Global Competitiveness Report which painted a mixed but improving picture for the U.S., in spite of gridlock within its political system. The report ranks the U.S. 50th among 148 countries in “public trust in politicians” and 48th in “transparency in policy making”. The report also notes the continued strength of the United States’ institutions of higher education, “high labor market efficiency,” and the economies of scale created by the sheer size of the U.S. market among the nation’s assets. However, the report ranks the U.S. 117th – down from 111th last year and 66th in 2008 – for its macroeconomic environment, and 41st in the quality of its primary educational system.
During the week prior to the Labor Day holiday during which Stats and Studies was on hiatus, Pew released a study looking at home broadband adoption rates. According to the study, “70% of American adults ages 18 and older have a high speed broadband connection at home.” This rate is 4 percentage points higher than the home broadband adoption rate Pew reported in April, 2012. However, socioeconomic disparities in home broadband adoption continue to persist. Specifically, while nearly “nine in 10 college graduates have high speed Internet at home”, just 37% of adults without a high school diploma report having it. Additionally, just 64% of black and 53% of Hispanic respondents reported having access to broadband at home, compared to 74% of white households. Further, Americans earning less than $30,000 per year reported having access to broadband at home at a rate of just 54%, compared to 88% of households with incomes of $75,000+.
San Diego State University released a study on the employment of women in prime-time television both behind and in front of the camera. The study has been released annually for 16 years, but this year’s sample was expanded to include the basic cable channels A&E, AMC, FX, History, TNT, and USA. During 2012-2013, the share of “women working as creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography” increased to 28% from 26% in 2011-12 and 21% in 1997-98. Further, 43% of all speaking characters were female during 2012-13, up from 41% during 2010-11, but is “even with the historical high” set in 2007-08. “Programs airing on the CW featured the highest percentage of female characters (51%), followed by Fox and ABC (44%), NBC (41%), and CBS (39%).”
After surveying 4,000 iPhone users, Ask.com reported that nearly half (46%) plan to upgrade to the new iPhone as soon as they are available, with 60% interested in the high-end iPhone 5S. Apple is expected to unveil iPhone 5S tomorrow, Tuesday, September 10th, at its Cupertino headquarters.
Strategy Analytics reports that, with a 43% market share, Qualcomm was the “top muticore smartphone application processor vendor in the first half of 2013.”
The results of Gallup’s August 7-11 Work and Education poll show a sharp increase (from 4% in 2002 to 12% in 2012) in the number of Americans reporting science as the most valuable subject they learned in school. Math still ranks highest at 34%, with 21% of respondents reporting English/Literature/Reading as their most valuable subject.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 2844), written to require the FCC to prepare “a biennial report for the Congress that assesses certain characteristics of the communications industry [including] the state of competition in the markets for voice, video, and data services, as well as the availability of high-speed and high-quality telecommunications services…would not have a significant effect on the agency’s discretionary costs.” The bill, which is co-sponsored by Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR) and Gregg Harper (R-MS), is designed to improve administrative efficiency at the FCC.