How Much Do Privacy Policies Impact Website Usage?

from the do-people-really-read-those-things? dept

It’s no surprise that many companies do a terrible job in dealing with the privacy of visitors to their site. Many companies don’t have specific privacy policies, and many that do, have them written in crazy legalese that many lawyers probably don’t understand. A recent study suggested that many people will leave a site if they’re not satisfied with it’s privacy policy. The study found 22.4% wouldn’t enter info without a privacy policy and another 26.6% said they would leave the site if they weren’t happy with the privacy policy. Those numbers sound impressive, but I don’t believe them. The study was based on asking people what they would do – in which case I’m actually surprised the numbers aren’t higher. It would be a lot more interesting to see what people actually do – rather than what they say they do. Set up a site with a privacy policy that says “we’re going to sell all your information to spammers and scammers” and then see what percentage of people even bother to click through to read the policy. Furthermore, how many people actually trust the companies to actually abide by the privacy policy they’ve written? I’m not denying that companies that collect information from their users should have a published, easy-to-read, easy-to-understand privacy policy. I just think it’s highly unlikely that the average user bothers to take a look… or to believe what they find if they do look.

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