Consumer privacy concerns are thought to be stalling the growth of e-commerce. Although regulatory philosophies differ between Europe and the US, internationally there is a general agreement on certain global privacy protection principles, namely notice, choice, onward transfer, access, security, integrity and enforcement. A content analysis of the privacy policies of the 30 largest international hotel brands revealed that 25% fully complied with these guidelines, 69% partially complied and only 7% failed to include a policy of any kind. Omissions most often occurred in terms of Choice, Security and Integrity, indicating an unsophisticated approach to the management of consumer information on the part of some hotel companies. However, follow up research revealed that those hotel companies that actually displayed a policy in general complied with the promises made in their privacy disclosures.
One of the major benefits of using the Web as an e-commerce medium is its ability to individually tailor sales and marketing messages to the customer. To facilitate this process, many websites encourage users to register, define preferences, and then subsequently add value by providing content specifically tailored to these needs (Metz 2001). Some e-commerce sites go a step further by tracking user actions - how often they visit the site, what pages they view, what products they buy - and using this "click-stream" data to refine such profiles based on actual behaviour rather than stated preferences (Weber, 2000). According to Internet & American Life (2000), nearly seventy-five percent of users find it useful when websites remember basic information about them and use it to provide better service.