Get Out Of Town: Study Claims That Online Shoppers Actually Care About Privacy

from the are-you-kidding? dept

A new study claims that internet users will pay more for goods at websites with good privacy policies than at sites with bad ones. The study, like others before it, would imply that internet users actually care and pay attention to these things. Unfortunately, there seems to be a major disconnect between what happens in the lab and what happens in the real world, as companies routinely lose customer data without suffering much in the way of actual consequences. It’s not hard to see why these studies aren’t good predictors of actual behavior. In a survey, nobody would be willing to admit that they’d risk identity theft to save a few bucks on a purchase. But in the real world, where buyers often come to products through comparison shopping engines that sort by price, and the likelihood of losing one’s data seems remote, consumers aren’t inclined to pay much attention to a site’s privacy policy. Furthermore, in this particular study, the participants were given a tool to evaluate a site’s privacy policy, which is already one major step beyond what most consumers take. While it’s obviously a problem that retailers (online and offline) don’t see much incentive to take customer privacy more seriously, perhaps it should be asked why shoppers don’t see an incentive to actually care.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Get Out Of Town: Study Claims That Online Shoppers Actually Care About Privacy”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Major Disconnects

Unfortunately, there seems to be a major disconnect between what happens in the lab and what happens in the real world

Coding Horror recently had an article related to this subject called Don’t Ask — Observe. One of the points he made was that what people say they want (and even think they want) and what they actually do want are often far different.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mayor of CCTV city doesn't like to be videod

‘Bust my ass’ (a BBC3 program) shown yesterday:

They took a camera into the mayor’s of Durham’s office and videod him. He didn’t like it and ordered them to stop filming.

So even the guy who put a huge number of CCTVs didn’t like to be videod in a public office.

People like privacy. It’s why it’s a fundamental human right. Even the people who claim it has to be sacrificed in exchange for security, they are the most secretive people of all.

A White says:

Few Read Privacy Policies

Very few people read privacy policies. It’s born out in the web analytics. My bet is that it’s fewer than the number that read EULAs.

So when someone says, “I read privacy policies!”, they’re one of three things: accountants, lawyers, or the group of people that still have their Winnebagos loaded up with supplies from the Y2K days.

Matt says:

Privacy Tool

What is this privacy tool they speak of and how does it work?

I endeavor to read privacy policies & terms of service agreements, but they are often so ridiculously long and filled with complex legal speak that reading them, let alone understanding the implications of what they say, is a difficult and time consuming task. I interpret insurance policies for a living, and MANY of these TOS and privacy agreements are more complex difficult to comprehend.

I could drive to the store, pick out my item, and drive home in the time it takes to read one of these agreements.

Cass says:

Cost of information

I can’t see how this “revelation” would influence companies that sell or trade lists. Math ain’t my strong suit, but it would take a lot of $15/$.60 transactions to make up the thousands of dollars (or more) in revenue that each list sale often represents.

If there’s a lesson here, it might be that consumers and law makers should seek *transparency* in privacy polices, rather than more stringent privacy law. A simplified, standardized privacy statement on every Web site–as easy to read as the nutritional index on any can of beans–would help the market dictate policy norms. And if this study is right, that would probably be a more effective corporate-decision driver than any law.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...