Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Consumers’ Need of Privacy Protection – Experimental Results

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

Consumers’ Need of Privacy Protection – Experimental Results

Article excerpt

Introduction

The development of modern IT, including the Internet, has opened up new opportunities in collecting, storing, processing, and using vast quantities of data, such as data referred to as Big Data. For example, data collections may include millions of records concerning: transactions carried out with payment cards by bank customers, information on the present location of mobile phone users, data on health condition and medical services used by patients, information on content looked for in the Internet, and personal data made available by users in social media. Large data collections are of interest for enterprises; owing to their analysis, they can offer more custom-made services and products, and thus improve their competitive advantage. Such databases are interesting also for a number of state institutions, including healthcare services, police, and tax authorities. It is noteworthy that within the ordinary daily activities, we generate much information about ourselves, which can be exemplified with a simple case of purchasing a train ticket.

To make the transaction and receive a train ticket at a ticket window, it is sufficient to make a payment. It is a bearer ticket and if it is paid for in cash, the data collection about a buyer is minimal.1 Quite different situation occurs if a train ticket is purchased over the Internet. As it is necessary to limit the risk of copying tickets and/or selling falsified tickets on the market, in the course of the online purchase a customer is obliged to provide one's full name.2 Such information has to conform to identity documents of the customer, because he or she may be asked for them during a routine ticket control on a train. Thus, information about a customer identity, the purpose and time of travel, and the seat occupied in a train, if numbered, is gathered simultaneously. In addition, the set of generated information increases significantly if a payment is made online, including the payment system used by the customer, the type of bank or payment card, the time of transaction, as well as the IP number.

The above-mentioned example shows that the volume of information obtained just from a single transaction may be substantial. Data is collected by implicit or explicit consent of customers by a number of entities and is often used for commercial purposes, including public ones. Nevertheless, cases of the improper use of customer data are not so rare, as well as the 'leaks' of sensitive and personal information. Hence, the intense development of IT and the resulting changes in the modern economy that bring many benefits to businesses and their customers pose a number of challenges as well, including especially the protection of private life. For example, Nir Kshetri (2014) discusses a situation of an unauthorised transfer of collected data to third parties by the Nissan company. Although the customers were not aware of the Nissan practice, the data about their location, speed, and the chosen direction were gathered and available on website. Nir Kshetri (2014) presents in his paper the detailed catalogue of benefits and risks that stem from the development of data wholesales from the perspective of protecting privacy and well-being of customers. On the other hand, Preisbusch et al. (2016) conducted the analysis of the on-going practices of 881 online stores operating in the US as regards providing information to the PayPal payment service. More than 50% of examined stores provided PayPal with information that could be used to create customer profiles by that service (Preisbusch et al., 2016).

The problems of providing access to personal data, its collection and storage as well as the broader issues of privacy protection, are the subject of a number of analyses within IT, law, economics, and psychology. Nevertheless, studies that try to imitate the actual conditions of decision-making when providing access to data and to analyse factors that affect that decision process with an experiment are less frequent. …

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