Part of the problem, Jupiter suggests, is that consumers confuse privacy and security. Keeping credit card information secure is the top consumer concern when it comes to e-commerce, but online users apparently tend to lump that issue with privacy, Jupiter said.
Rather than allowing media reports and government regulators to shape the dialogue over privacy issues, Web sites need to be proactive in educating consumers and tackling their fears, according to an executive summary posted at the market researcher's Web site at http://www.jup.com/.
"As media and government scrutiny increase, in turn fueling consumer fears, the privacy issue could quickly turn into the privacy problem," which could affect online advertising and digital commerce revenue, the executive summary says.
Jupiter asked survey respondents to identify the top two factors that would lead to better trust of Web sites when it comes to privacy and 37 percent said that they "simply did not trust Web sites with their privacy." Posted privacy policies do allay worries of 36 percent of those surveyed.
Government regulation clearly isn't the answer. Just 14 percent said that they would be more likely to trust a Web site when it comes to privacy if the site were subject to government regulation. Even less credible in terms of privacy are sites recommended by family and friends. Only 9 percent of the 2,015 online consumers surveyed said that such a recommendation would contribute to their trusting a site to not violate their privacy.
Faring somewhat better are sites posting third-party privacy seals. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said that such a seal would contribute to their willingness to trust a site, although Jupiter contends that's not good enough.
"This finding demonstrates the fact that third-party privacy initiatives need to do more to educate consumers about the role such initiatives play in ensuring privacy standards," the executive summary says. "These seal programs should be aiming for nothing less than 100 percent of consumers surveyed indicating that they would trust a Web site if it displayed a third-party privacy seal."