Most US consumers would welcome regulation helping to protect their data, according to a survey from SAS.

With the recent implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the European Union and a steady stream of news about data privacy, it should not come as a surprise that the survey found US consumers are increasingly concerned about their personal data.

Of 525 US adult consumers surveyed, almost three-fourths (73 per cent) said their concern over the privacy of personal data has increased in the past few years.

Sixty-seven per cent of survey participants think the US government should do more to protect data privacy. And the new Congress seems poised to explore federal regulation.

“The survey results clearly show that consumers value their data privacy and are greatly concerned about potential misuse. Companies need to reexamine how they handle data and analytics in all aspects of the business,” said Todd Wright, global lead for GDPR Solutions at SAS.

“It’s clear that in this age of increased data privacy concerns, even without a more stringent data privacy law in the US, organisations that treat their customers’ data with care will be rewarded, and those that don’t risk the loss of reputation and customers.”

Although consumers seem to want the US government to do more to protect their data privacy, they are also taking action. The majority (66 per cent) of respondents have taken steps to secure their data, such as changing privacy settings (77 per cent), changing or not accepting cookies (67 per cent), declining terms of agreement (65 per cent), deleting an app from a mobile device (56 per cent) or removing a social media account (36 per cent).

More than one-third of survey participants (38 per cent) reported using social media less often because of data privacy concerns.

US states are already reacting to this wave of concern from citizens, and Congress is starting to take note. California recently passed legislation similar to GDPR that will take effect in 2020, and Vermont became the first state to enact a law regulating data brokers who buy and sell personal information.

In September, the US Senate held its first committee meeting on how lawmakers can protect consumer privacy, and in early November, Senator Ron Wyden proposed the Consumer Data Privacy Act, a bill similar to GDPR that would penalise CEOs in addition to the companies.

“These state laws are likely the beginning of US legislation,” said Lisa Loftis, a thought leader on the SAS customer intelligence team. “Organisations are still wrestling with existing regulations like GDPR, and new regulations like a US government data privacy law could prove challenging.”

SAS survey conducted just months before the onset of GDPR found that 93 per cent of global organisations that participated in the survey were not fully GDPR compliant.