Posts Tagged ‘internet privacy’

Privacy policies turning consumers off?

January 19th, 2012 8 Comments By Thewlis

keyboard 300x200 Privacy policies turning consumers off?Privacy.  It’s one of those things people don’t like to talk about. However, new research shows that web retailers need to have a serious sit down with their privacy policy if they are going to make those all important sales.

Research group Forrester found that a growing number of consumers were actually reading retailers’ privacy policy and voting with their feet* if they didn’t like what they saw. Who knew anyone actually read those things.

A total of 37,000 respondents were asked a number of questions about their internet shopping habits, and whether a privacy policy or terms of use statement had put them off. Report author  Fatemeh Khatibloo concluded that “a leaky, bloated, or hidden privacy policy and/or terms-of-use statement will cost [an] organisation substantial revenues.”

“A surprising number of consumers ‘just say no’ if a privacy policy doesn’t pass their sniff test, and the numbers seem to be rising,” he continued.

It seems that the eagle-eyed shoppers are predominantly the over-55s, presumably because they are the only ones with enough time on their hands to read the darned things. In response to the question “Have you ever not completed an online transaction with a company because of something you read in the company’s terms of use or privacy policy?” more than half of respondents over 55 said they had. And I thought it took my Gran three hours to do her online supermarket shopping because she was 88.

But this is not the first time this demographic group have expressed their nit-pickingness. The same question posed to over 55s back in 2008 saw only 40% of people say they had abandoned a transaction because of privacy concerns, a rise of over 25% .

And it isn’t just the silver surfers who are wiping out- overall, the total number of people who had clicked away from a site due to privacy policy fears has risen from 38% to 44% over the same period. Although the walk-away rate was lower among younger web users, Forrester said online retailers should be aware that the trend suggested that customers were likely to change their attitudes. With the retail sector suffering, surely these businesses need to pull out all the stops to keep customers, not lose them to dodgy policies.

So, given that the average Bitterwallet reader is between 30-45, male and would describe themselves as having “excellent IT skills”**, do you read privacy policies and terms of use? Have you ever decided a website is not worthy of your money owing to such policies or are price and value the key to your business?

*Strictly speaking it is their fingers who will be doing the walking.

** We know all about you. We can see you.

[PC Pro]

cookies 261x300 How much do cookies cost? About £500,000...

Some cookies, yesterday. Just before I ate them.

Now, I love a chocolate chip cookie as much as the next girl- looking at my waistline, possibly more, but half a million quid? Better be a big one.

Oh, internet cookies. Right.

For once, Europe is doing us poor consumers a favour, with changes required by the new European Union Electronic Communications Framework meaning that websites guilty of using technologies to track a user’s browsing behaviour without their consent or sending unwanted marketing emails to consumers could face a fine of up to £500,000 according to Which!

The Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) gets these lovely new e-privacy powers on 25th May so website owners had better beware.

Currently, lots of sites track your web browsing behaviour- ever wondered how those Hotmail ads know you need Viagra? Or how Facebook suggests you need to go to AA before you even admit you’ve got a problem? However, rather than lose potentially lucrative advertising revenue, it is likely that permission to track you will be built into any terms and conditions of use. However, casual browsing of sites (yes, even those sort of sites) where you do not register or tick one of those boxes to lie and say you have read all 705 pages of terms and conditions should now be protected.

Similarly, spam unrequested email or digital marketing is already covered by the existing regulations, although the maximum fine is currently a measly £5,000, and all e-communications are required to have an opt-out. However, those naughty chappies who send you emails purporting to be from your bank, HMRC or a deposed Nigerian Prince* are not really acting within the letter of the law anyway, so are these new rules going to have a huge effect?

And in any case, although the new rules come in next month, they may take some time to find their teeth. The ICO has already stated that it will not take action against non-compliance provided a website owner can show it is “working towards” compliance in the unquantified “short-term”. Besides, how are you going to find him to fine him if he’s living in exile somewhere just waiting to regain his crown…

* Come on. Who fell for this one? Clearly someone must have, else they wouldn’t still be doing the rounds. We won’t laugh. Much.