What Price Privacy? Data Protection and the Development of Business to Consumer (B2C) Electronic Commerce.

Thin, Ruth (2002) What Price Privacy? Data Protection and the Development of Business to Consumer (B2C) Electronic Commerce. Diploma thesis, Dublin, National College of Ireland.

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"Privacy is a relational and relative concept. ... Concern for privacy is a subjective measure - one that varies from individual to individual based on that person's own perceptions and values" (O'Neil 2001). Privacy concerns predate the internet with Warren and Brandeis (1890) expressing concern in their paper "The Right to Privacy". Over the years the focus of privacy concerns has altered with developments in the field of technology, such as wiretaps and close circuit television (CCTV); with computerisation; and now with the internet. Technology and the internet enables companies to collect, store, analyse, combine and retrieve large amounts of data very quickly. As Garfinkel (2000) puts it, we are in danger of turning into a Database Nation not watched by one Big Brother but by a hundred kid brothers.

Research has shown that concern about privacy is a key issue in the lack of growth in the B2C sector. While companies need information to function efficiently and effectively, consumers are concerned about what happens to their personal data. The purpose of this research was twofold. Firstly, it surveyed the attitudes of people resident in Ireland to their privacy and the disclosure of personal information and to find out if they viewed their privacy as a commodity or a non negotiable right. Secondly, the research looked at the approach of companies to consumer privacy concerns by evaluating privacy policies of on-line companies in terms of the information they contained and how comprehensive they were.

The research found indicators that some people do put a value on their personal information and are willing to disclose it if they perceive the benefit to be worth the loss of privacy incurred. Others are less likely to treat their privacy as a commodity. The research also found that generally companies did not provide comprehensive and easily accessible privacy policies and did not address many of the important principles of data protection, thus failing to build confidence in the consumer.

It concluded that consumer education and a change in the attitudes of companies to how they did business on the internet were needed as an immediate step to building consumer confidence, while ongoing technological developments would hopefully come to fruition and provide consumers with the choice of anonymity on-line and secure anonymous payment systems.

Item Type: Thesis (Diploma)
Subjects: K Law > KDK Republic of Ireland > Data Protection
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > Electronic Commerce
Divisions: School of Computing > Postgraduate Diploma in Electronic Commerce and Business
Depositing User: SINEAD CORCORAN
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2010 17:29
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2015 16:59

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