Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Laxity May Lead to New Laws on Internet Privacy

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: Laxity May Lead to New Laws on Internet Privacy

Article excerpt

A report out last week from online consultant Jupiter Research found that almost three-quarters of US online consumers were worried about privacy.

Hardly surprising, really, since issues of privacy, trust and data protection have been at the forefront of the whole debate about e-commerce since the internet began to become such a pervasive presence.

There's just one problem. Less than half of those surveyed actually read web site privacy statements. And 82% said that they would give away personal information to new shopping sites if they had a chance to win dollars 100 in a sweepstake.

So companies could be forgiven, suggests Jupiter, for taking a somewhat cavalier approach to the privacy implications of the sophisticated and expensive customer relationship management systems they are busily installing.

Most companies, the report says, budgeted less than dollars 40,000 (pounds 27,000) a year for online privacy initiatives.

But this could be very short-sighted for a number of reasons. First is the legislative aspect. In the past few weeks there have been signs that far more stringent legislation to regulate online marketing is being considered both in Europe and the US.

For example, the EU has taken a hard look at the use of 'cookies', which register details of an individual's PC when logged on to a site and can also be used to profile users for marketing purposes. The fact that these have not been outlawed is only thanks to an amendment to legislation by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

In the US, two bills aimed at curbing spam and tightening online privacy are headed for the full Senate after being approved in committee. The senator sponsoring the anti-spam bill declared that the bill would 'strangle out spam e-mail by imposing steep fines and empowering consumers with the choice to close their doors on hyper-marketing once and for all'. …

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