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Privacy and Trust Go Hand-In-Hand

Sebastian Ricciardi

A few days ago, Eric Goldman wrote an interesting thinkpiece in CircleID regarding users' feeling about privacy. He seems to conclude that the existent regulations and policies on the matter are unnecessary, since Privacy doesn't "really" matters to the consumer. Eric based his argumentation on a number of surveys, stating that, even when the user expresses concerns about their privacy, on line behavior shows a different reality. We don't want to discuss here the soundness of surveys as a reliable source of information, but the author could be assuming too much in his analysis.

It is true that user's don't read privacy policies. At least not me, nor those who I know. However, I do have strong feelings about on line privacy as a fundamental right for the average Internet User. To read those policies is bother, take time and in some cases is considered as a waste of time. Happens the same in the brick & mortar world every day: How many times do you carefully read the security policies of your parking lot? Do you ever read the terms of service of your energy company? Even better, how many times you read the terms of service of your credit card??

At the end of the day, it's a matter of trust. If I do trust well known sites as Yahoo.com, ebay.com, MSN, etc., I don't want to waste my time reading their privacy policies. The users only provide personal information (considering it "sensitive") in the websites they trust. In the other websites, they don't read privacy policies; they just avoid bringing them that kind of information.

Sweepstakes and promotions are another interesting issue, and the same arguments apply. Yes, the user may give a lot of personal information to Amazon.com in order to win a book, but how many people do you know that reply unsolicited messages announcing that you win a fortune in a lottery? Once again, it is a matter of trust.

By Sebastian Ricciardi, Internet User
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