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Online Privacy Issues.

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Introduction

Online Privacy Issues Privacy means different things to different people. In general, privacy is the right to be left alone and the right to be free of unreasonable personal intrusions. (Turban et al, 2000) A definition of information privacy, according to Agranoff (1993), is the "claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, and to what extent, information about them is communicated to others." Online businesses constantly gather and use demographic information from users who are afraid that their personal data, including credit card numbers or their behaviour on the Internet, may be sold, used, or revealed in an inappropriate manner. Such fears keep many consumers from shopping online. Among the 77 percent of Internet users who have never purchased products online, 86 percent say that they have been holding back out of fear that others might use their credit card number, or other private information, without their consent. This is a significant obstacle to the growth of electronic commerce. (Turban et al, 2000) In order for consumers to trust electronic commerce and to not have fear of giving over personal information on the Internet, companies must now have a privacy policy on their Website that can be read and agreed to if necessary. ...read more.

Middle

Amazon also state in their privacy policy that they may use the personal information collected to notify customers about important functionality changes to the Website, but they ensure that if the customer would rather not receive this information they can opt out. So exactly how does Amazon.co.uk protect customer information? Well when customers place orders or access their account information, they offer the use of a secure server. The secure server software (SSL) encrypts all information that is input before it is sent to Amazon. Also, as required by the UK Data Protection Legislation, Amazon follow strict security procedures in the storage and disclosure of information which the customers have given to them, to prevent unauthorised access. Their security procedures mean that they may occasionally request proof of identity before they are able to disclose sensitive information. (Amazon, 1996) Microsoft is committed to protecting their customer's privacy. Most sites can be visited without having to give out personal information. But sometimes information needs to be given to provide certain services that the customers requests. Microsoft's privacy policy consists of informing the customers about the collection of their personal information, the control, access, security of their personal information, their use of cookies and their enforcement of their privacy statement. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is also hard to believe because it looks as though not a lot of time was spent on it. The second website iVillage was not very well presented, this was because it was very long. This would make it hard for the user to read without feeling confused, it was filled with jargon that a non-computer literate person would find hard to understand. The policy needed to be much more focused. The second best policy was that of Amazon.co.uk. It was well presented, with bullet points separating the information. It was quite easy to follow and you gain a great deal of information, without it being too hard to absorb. I found that Microsoft had the best policy as it was very well presented, making it easy for the user to follow. It was easily understandable and it explained everything without included too much jargon. In terms of the way in which the Websites have been ranked (above), there do seem to be significant differences between .com and .co.uk Websites. Microsoft.co.uk was ranked as having the best privacy policy and it is the only .co.uk Website listed. The other .com companies fell short of the top mark because they were either far too wordy and unfocused or far too brief. ...read more.

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