Consumers Believe Privacy Is Responsibility of Website Owners

Sue Marquette Poremba
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How to Effectively Address Privacy Concerns

There is a fine line between security and privacy. After all, a data breach does compromise the privacy of an individual’s stored information. And according to a recent study conducted by Rad Campaign, Lincoln Park Strategies and Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, it appears that the vast majority of American adults don’t trust the privacy levels of websites they visit—particularly social media sites. The study shows that the older the user, the greater the level of mistrust. Those over age 65 say they don’t trust sites to protect their privacy at twice the rate of those under age 35. Now, that particular statistic isn’t surprising; a number of studies over the past couple of years have found that millennials—young adults who’ve grown up online— have a very different view of privacy than do those of us who shared our private lives via handwritten notes passed under school desks.  

According to a Yahoo article on privacy:

At the top of the list of concerns are tracking cookies. Seventy-three percent of respondents said they were concerned about such cookies being placed on their computers without their knowledge, and 36 percent said they knew for a fact that this had happened to them.

The study also revealed this interesting tidbit, Yahoo continued:

The poll suggested that many Americans do not think it is their responsibility to set limits on their privacy. While 60 percent of respondents either thought current privacy laws were too weak or weren't sure, a similar number—66 percent—said they either skim through a website's terms of service (TOS) before agreeing or do not read the terms of service at all.

The challenge for a business, whether it is a social media site, an e-commerce site, or any company that interacts with customers through a website, is: How much privacy and security of data are you responsible for? I think it is irresponsible of users and customers who don’t bother to learn the privacy TOS or don’t take the time to practice better security on their own side of the monitor. As Stefan Hankin, president and founder of Lincoln Park Strategies, was quoted in eWeek:

Even though it's filled with legal jargon, people can still get some sense of the type of data that the site is currently collecting and how they plan to use it.

But since users aren’t willing to do this, it is up to those on the business end of the site to build better privacy settings into their security plan.

Sue Marquette Poremba has been writing about network security since 2008. In addition to her coverage of security issues for IT Business Edge, her security articles have been published at various sites such as Forbes, Midsize Insider and Tom's Guide. You can reach Sue via Twitter: @sueporemba

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