2doonlineThe terms of use and privacy statement of online shopping portals are in general extremely comprehensive and often too boring to be read. Hence, it brings up the suspicion that e-commerce sites are just eager to get acceptance of terms and conditions as part of doing business and to hedge their bets. Indeed, nearly three-quarters of respondents (70%) in a recently conducted study by Etailing Solutions stated they would seldom or never read privacy statements on websites where they shop. The company’s October 2013 survey revealed further that, dazzled by bargain deals, especially younger respondents (41%) were willing to let marketers use their personal information for discounts on goods and services.

Concerns about privacy remains high

With two in three consumers being more concerned about privacy than a year ago, TRUSTe’s latest privacy study comes timely, too. In fact, the global data privacy management company revealed that 91% of Internet users say privacy is an important issue, which gets me wondering why just few read the small print, where usually cookie placement and other details are described and approved. One out of three Internet users even claim to have stopped doing business with a company or using its website due to privacy concerns, demanding from businesses to be clear and forthright about data usage to be able to make their own privacy choices.

"As demonstrated time and time again through numerous privacy firestorms, online companies that don't clearly explain what's happening with customer data or fully inform users of their choices contribute to a climate of fear," said Chris Babel, CEO for TRUSTe. "As our research shows, we think that by listening and responding to what users want, we can eliminate that fear and increase trust in the ever-growing data economy."

Majority of internet users want to take privacy into their own hands

According to TRUSTe’s study, 71% of internet users reported they automatically delete cookies, clear their cache or browsing history via browser settings—up 4% points from 2012. An even greater share said they take privacy into their own hands, as 82% of respondents chose to manually delete cookies and clear their cache or browsing history—an increase from 79% in 2012.

These statistics show that with better education, better ICT skills and expertise, customers are becoming more aware about the choices they have in managing interest-based advertising and probably even more will read the terms and conditions of online shops. Let’s not forget that more than 80% of users still hold themselves most responsible for their privacy, but they also hold website owners/publishers (76%), social networks (73%), browsers (72%) and advertisers/ad networks (65%) highly responsible.

By Daniela la Marca