Consumers Don’t Trust Web Sites

A report from Jupiter Communications found that 64 percent of online consumers are unlikely to trust a Web site, even if the site prominently features a privacy policy.

According to Jupiter’s report, the attention focused on Internet privacy issues by the government and media are serving as fuel for consumer fears, and will affect both online advertising and digital commerce revenue unless sites take action and educate and communicate with online consumers.

Although the majority of Web sites post some form of privacy policy to address their use of consumer information, Jupiter found consumer fears regarding privacy are complex and therefore not easily assuaged. In fact, there is little consensus among consumers about what specific the specific issues are surrounding online privacy. Consumers have confused the concepts of privacy and security; they identify security of credit card information, which is their primary concern, as a privacy issue.

“The intense media coverage of the online privacy issue is fueling consumers’ fears,” said Michele Slack, an analyst for Jupiter’s Online Advertising Strategies. “Web ventures are allowing the media to create an online privacy dialogue with consumers, thereby missing out out on an opportunity to shape this important dialogue with consumers themselves.”

The online industry has been very proactive about communicating to government agencies on this issue to help ward off regulation, but has not been very effective at promoting its efforts with consumers in order to build trust among online users, according to Slack.

Jupiter recommends that sites take a proactive approach to contain and shape the privacy issue and avoid losing online advertising and digital commerce revenue. A proactive approach consists of the following:

  • Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with consumers
  • Educating consumers and promoting privacy efforts
  • Creating an industry standard for addressing the privacy issue
  • Continuing to lobby against government regulation

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