Two in Three (66%) Global Citizens Say Hacktivists Should Be Stopped, But Majority (52%) Believes Hacktivists Should Step In When No One Else Will

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Toronto, ON – Two in three (66%) global citizens believe that online hacktivists should be stopped, while a slim majority (52%) believe that they should step in when no one else will hold someone accountable, according to a new Ipsos poll commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). The poll entitled the 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust explored Internet user’s perceptions on the role of hacktivists – controversial groups of hackers that utilize computers and technology for political or social causes.

The findings of the global survey indicate that two in three (66%) citizens across the 24 countries surveyed strongly agree that ’hacktivist groups are breaking the law and should be stopped’. Residents of Pakistan (94%) are by far the most likely to believe that hacktivists should be stopped, followed distantly by a majority in Tunisia (79%), Egypt (76%), Nigeria (73%), China (73%), India (73%), Kenya (71%), Hong Kong (71%), Indonesia (71%), the United States (69%), Great Britain (64%), Mexico (63%), Australia (62%), Brazil (61%), Sweden (60%), South Africa (59%), Canada (56%), Poland (55%), Turkey (55%), and Italy (54%). A minority of residents of Japan (49%), South Korea (47%), France (45%) and Germany (44%) believe hacktivists should be stopped. At the same time, many acknowledge that hacktivists can and should play a role when others cannot or will not step in to hold others accountable. A slim majority (52%) agrees (18% strongly/34% somewhat) that ‘if nobody else will keep someone accountable, hacktivist groups should step in and do the job’, with a majority of those in India (65%), Indonesia (64%), South Africa (63%), Poland (62%), Kenya (59%), Germany (59%), Turkey (56%), Australia (56%), Brazil (56%), Mexico (55%), South Korea (54%), Sweden(54%), the United States (54%), Nigeria (53%), Canada (53%), China (52%) and Italy (52%) agreeing that hacktivists should step in.

Four in ten (43%) global citizens agree (13% strongly/30% somewhat) that they have a positive view of hacktivist groups, with a majority of those in Kenya (55%), Nigeria (53%), Germany (53%), India (52%) and half of those in South Africa (50%) and Turkey (50%) agreeing that they do. A minority living in Mexico (49%), Poland (49%), Italy (49%), Indonesia (49%), South Korea (47%), Australia (45%), Brazil (45%), France (45%), Sweden (44%), Canada (43%), the United States (41%), Great Britain (38%), Egypt (36%), Pakistan (34%), Tunisia (33%), China (33%), Japan (25%) and Hong Kong (23%) agree.

Who are Hacktivists Holding Accountable?

Global citizens believe that hacktivists play an important role keeping criminal organizations (66% -- 31% very/35% somewhat), foreign governments (66% -- 27% very/39% somewhat), large companies (66% -- 26% very/39% somewhat), the police (63% -- 28% very/35% somewhat) and internet users (57% -- 22% very/35% somewhat) accountable.

Notably, two in three (65%) also believe that hacktivists play an important role (29% very/37% somewhat) holding their own government(s) to account, although there is substantial variation across the countries surveyed. Those in India (80%), Kenya (78%), Mexico (78%), Indonesia (78%), Turkey (77%), and South Africa (75%) are most inclined to agree, with a majority of those in Hong Kong (73%), Nigeria (71%), the United States (69%), China (67%), Pakistan (66%), South Korea (66%), Germany (66%), Australia (65%), Brazil (65%), Canada (65%), France (64%), Egypt (60%), Great Britain (58%), Japan (55%), Italy (53%) and Poland (52%) also agreeing. Half (50%) of Swedes agree, while only 44% of those in Tunisia agree that hacktivists play an important role in holding their government to account.

Foster Accountability or Just a Nuisance?

When it came to the perceptions held by global citizens of hacktivists, global citizens appear conflicted about whether hacktivists can actually play an important role in holding people accountable or whether they’re simply a nuisance.

Six in ten (58%) agree (21% strongly/37% somewhat) that ‘hacktivist groups play an important role in keeping people accountable’, led by those in Kenya (70%), followed by a majority in Mexico (67%), South Africa (67%), India (65%), Poland (65%), Turkey (64%), Nigeria (63%), Pakistan (63%), France (62%), Germany (62%), Australia (59%), China (59%), Canada (58%), Indonesia (57%), the United States (57%), Brazil (53%), Sweden (53%), South Korea (53%), Italy (52%), Great Britain (51%) and a minority in Tunisia (49%), Egypt (48%), Hong Kong (46%) and, finally, Japan (25%).

However, a similar proportion (56%) agrees (26% strongly/30% somewhat) that ‘hacktivist groups are a nuisance and provide no real value’, with those in Pakistan (80%), Tunisia (75%), and Egypt (72%) being most likely to agree, followed by those in India (67%), Indonesia (65%), Kenya (63%), Nigeria (63%), Great Britain (55%), Australia (54%), China (54%), the United States (54%), Mexico (53%), Hong Kong (53%), Poland (50%), Turkey (50%), Sweden (47%), South Africa (46%), Italy (46%), Brazil (44%), Canada (43%), Japan (43%), France (37%), Germany (36%) and South Korea (35%).

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll for CIGI in field between November 20 and December 4, 2015. The survey was conducted in 24 countries—Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States—and involved 24,143 Internet users. Twenty of the countries utilized the Ipsos Internet panel system while the other four (Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia) were conducted by Ipsos Computer-aided Telephone Interviewing (CATI) facilities in each of those countries. In the US and Canada respondentswere aged 18-64, and 16-64 in all other countries. Approximately 1000+ individuals were surveyed in each country and are weighted to match the online population in each country surveyed. The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval. In this case, a poll of 1,000 is accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points. For those surveys conducted by CATI, the margin of error accuracy is +/-3.1. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Fen Hampson
Director, Global Security & Politics Program
519.885.2444 ext. 7201

Darrell Bricker
Global CEO
Ipsos Public Affairs

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Two in Three (66%) Global Citizens Say Hacktivists Should Be Stopped, But Majority (52%) Believes Hacktivists Should
Step In When No One Else Will


Darrell Bricker
CEO, Global
Ipsos Public Affairs