Is it still possible to maintain privacy nowadays when purchasing products from webshops? There is a lot of debate regarding this subject, lately privacy issues are often in the headlines. Almost everyone in America en Europe uses the search engine Google nowadays, it is the most visited website in the entire world. As you can imagine this is a sexy target for cybercriminals, in the past Google has been hacked and personal information of more than 300,000 website owners have been leaked (Kirk, 2015). Facebook, one of the largest social media platforms in the world also leaked personal information. Personal information of over 6 million user accounts were leaked, the issue was caused by a bug in the social platform (Guarini, 2013). Remember Edward Snowden? Some call him a traitor, but I would call him a hero.
Snowden published documents that revealed that the NSA tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Franceschi-Bicchierai, 2014). Let’s assume that she uses a secure phone line, the NSA still managed to tap her phone. You can ask yourself the question: Does privacy exists in the digital world we are living in? The news messages regarding privacy might scare people from providing personal information when buying a product or service online. In the study: The effect of online privacy information on purchasing behavior: An experimental study., an empirical investigation has been done to research whether privacy information that is displayed will have an effect when purchasing something online. If an effect is determined an organization can even gain a competitive advantage by providing privacy information to the customer (Tsai et al., 2011). Privacy is outlined in 4 different dimensions: the collection, unauthorized secondary use, errors and improper access to personal information (Tsai et al., 2011). When an organization violates certain rules the victim may even get a compensation, to prevent this from happening organizations set up privacy policies. The study consists of 3 different parts: in the first part the types of privacy concerns and products are identified that will be part in later stages of the study. The second part is displaying the privacy information and what the effect is on the purchase behavior of the customer. The last part is a post experiment interview that will be held with the participants. The results showed that customers rather choose for a website that has a higher level of privacy information shown. But you also have to take into account what the product is that the customer is looking for, for example: when choosing for a products like a sex toy, which is very private, the customer is more careful when providing personal information to a webshop. However the price sensitivity hasn’t been taken into account in the study when choosing for a certain website. People are willing to give personal information in exchange for a compensation, this compensation could be either a discount, prize money or a free gift (Tedeschi, 2002). When no privacy information is given on a website people tend to choose a website where the price is the lowest. Unfortunately in this study the price sensibility hasn’t been taken into account when privacy information is shown. But the most important thing is that you can absolutely gain an competitive advantage when providing privacy information to your customer!
Franceschi-Bicchierai (2014) ‘The top 10 biggest revelations from Edward Snowden’s leaks’, http://www.pcworld.com/article/2896472/google-error-leaks-website-owners-personal-information.html, last visited 12 September 2016
Guarini (2013) ‘Experts say Facebook leak of 6 million users’ data might be bigger than we thought’, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/facebook-leak-data_n_3510100.html, last visited 12 September 2016
Kirk (2015) ‘Google error leaks owner personal info for nearly 300,000 websites’, http://www.pcworld.com/article/2896472/google-error-leaks-website-owners-personal-information.html, last visited 12 September 2016
Tsai, J.Y., Egelman, S., Cranor, L. and Acquisti, A. (2011) The effect of online privacy information on purchasing behavior: An experimental study. Information Systems Research, 22(2), pp.254-268.
Tedeschi (2002) Everybody talks about online privacy, but few do anything about it. New York Times (June 3) Section C, Column 1 6