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Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007 at 4:01 pm

“Do Consumers Care About Online Privacy?”

By Robert Gorell
October 30th, 2007

One might think that’s an obvious “yes,” but not necessarily, according to Advertising Age. In fact, there’s a good deal of confusion as to what online privacy actually means.

“Consumers fundamentally misunderstand the rules of the marketplace,” said Chris Hoofnagle, senior staff attorney at the Samuelson Clinic at UC-Berkley’s Boalt School of Law, addressing a perceived apathy toward the subject. He cites studies in which up to 75% of consumers think as long as a site has a privacy policy it means it won’t share data with third parties. “They equate the presence of the policy with substantive privacy rules.”

How does this apply to your business? First of all, make your privacy statement clear and concise, e.g., “We value your privacy,” “We will not share your personal information — ever.” It’s also important that the trustmarks you use actually mean something to the customer (Bryan recently showed BizRate as an example).

Still, the need for brands to inspire confidence online is as vital as ever. (You may have noticed we’ve been covering trust issues quite a bit lately.) The latest evidence: McAfee’s plan to acquire ScanAlert for $51 million in cash.

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Comments (11)

  1. Inspire confidence is an idea. Stop sharing the personal info is another one (I know, it won’t happen).

  2. I think people will jut check on the policy and take a brief glance without even understanding the content or what they are agreeing to. But business-wise, it’s very important to have a simple privacy policy if you have products you don’t want shared.

  3. I’ve been thinking about the concept of public information. Per se, alone, it may be considered quite harmless. Yet, when a site aggregates it, now you have a target painted on your forehead. Customers’ privacy is non negotiable. The times when it was up to the customer to figure out what your policies are may be gone. Trust = transparency more and more.

  4. Valeria: What a great way to phrase it!

    Marketers need to get over the notion that having a customer’s personal information is somehow more valuable than having their trust and money — again, and again, and again.

  5. [...] Simplify your privacy statement Roughly 75% of consumers assume that, as long as a site has a privacy policy, it won't share data with third parties. Not only [...]

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  8. Great article and useful needs our thanks.

  9. Inspire confidence is an idea. Stop sharing the personal info is another one (I know, it won’t happen).

  10. Great article and useful needs our thanks.

  11. You just can’t do enough to help your customers feel that their information is safe. I know as an online consumer, I always worry about the security of my personal info. So, I know my customers must feel the same. You HAVE to make it clear how you utilize or if you utilize info up front and be completely transparent. Anything less is only setting you up for disaster.

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