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    Associated Press: Customers stay despite high-profile data breaches

    The Associated Press has an interesting story about consumer attitudes toward companies even after there are high-profile data security or privacy breaches:

    Week after week, thieves break into corporate computer systems to steal customer lists, email addresses and credit card numbers. Large data breaches get overshadowed by even larger ones.

    Yet people are turning over personal information to online retailers, social networks and other services in growing numbers. The point at which people lose trust in the websites they deal with appears further away than ever before, if it exists at all, as shopping, socializing and gaming online becomes deeply embedded in modern life.

    People have come to accept that sharing information is the price of a meaningful, connected life online – even if they don’t like it. […]

    Companies collecting the personal details have little incentive to offer the best privacy protections. So far, people haven’t demanded that companies do better by walking away from their gadgets, online retailers or social networks. […]

    It may take government regulation to force companies to do better. The Federal Trade Commission is urging Web browser makers to build “Do Not Track” tools to let consumers stop advertisers from studying their online activity in order to target pitches. The Commerce Department has called on Congress to adopt ground rules for companies that collect consumer data online for marketing. Several lawmakers have introduced privacy bills. […]

    Consumers are at a disadvantage because companies often leave their privacy policies intentionally vague, yet lengthy with legalese.

    In any case, few people bother to read them at all. Carnegie Mellon University researchers found it would take the average person 40 minutes per day to read through all the privacy policies that person encounters online.

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