Privacy Control and Assurance: Does Gender Influence Online Information Exchange?

Privacy Control and Assurance: Does Gender Influence Online Information Exchange?

Alan Rea (Western Michigan University, USA) and Kuanchin Chen (Western Michigan University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-012-7.ch008
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Protecting personal information while Web surfing has become a struggle. This is especially the case when transactions require a modicum of trust to be successfully completed. E-businesses argue that they need personal information so they can create viable data to tailor user interactions and provide targeted marketing. However; users are wary of providing personal information because they lack trust in e-businesses’ personal information policies and practices. E-businesses have attempted to mitigate user apprehension and build a relationship base in B2C transactions to facilitate the sharing of personal information. Some efforts have been successful. This chapter presents survey results that suggest a relationship between gender and how users control personal information. The findings suggest that e-businesses should modify information and privacy policies to increase information and transactional exchanges.
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In the past few years we have witnessed the competing interests of technological convenience, personal privacy, and e-business needs. Consumers are finding that e-businesses are asking for—or taking—more personal information than they may be willing to give in order to utilize goods and services. E-businesses counter that they only take necessary information to complete transactions and perform effective marketing and customization of their products and services.

Consumers want to actively control how much personal information they disclose depending on the level of trust inherent in each e-business relationship. A consumer using a familiar Web site with privacy policies she trusts will be more willing to divulge crucial information an e-business needs, such as demographic data and shopping preferences. E-businesses want to create an atmosphere that will foster this trust and information sharing.

However, there is a palpable tension between consumers and e-businesses at the start of a partnership. This tension exists because of a lack of trust between users and e-businesses. This mistrust is not unfounded. E-businesses have a poor record when it comes to protecting consumers’ privacy online.

Privacy and the Consumer

The popular Apple iTunes software is no stranger to privacy indiscretions. In early 2006, Apple released iTunes version 6.0.2 which included a new feature called the MiniStore (Borland, 2006). The MiniStore enabled iTunes to offer customized user recommendations based on past browsing and purchases. Granted, this customizable feature offered a means to enable users to find more personalized selections. However, computer experts found that in addition to the song selection, unique data about each user was sent back to Apple via the MiniStore (McElhearn, 2006). Once this information was found, the software’s user agreement was analyzed by experts who found no mention of this particular MiniStore functionality (Borland, 2006). Apple soon recanted and explained to users how to turn off this feature. In all new versions of iTunes, MiniStore functionality must be enabled by users (Apple, 2007).

However, Apple’s iTunes is once again in the privacy spotlight. In 2007, researchers discovered that all DRM-free music purchased via iTunes embeds each user’s personal information in the file (Fisher, 2007). Additional research found that all iTunes purchases include this information with no explanation from Apple.

Apple is not the only organization tracking users’ information without their knowledge. Microsoft Windows Media Player stores data about all users’ media files that they watch either online or on DVDs. The Media player encodes all selections with a “Windows Media Player ID number” specific to each user (Festa, 2002; Smith, 2002a). This information is then sent to an online Microsoft database. These “SuperCookies” can be used to track user viewing habits, Web surfing preferences, and other personal information. While Microsoft denies any plans to use this data and provides instructions on how to disable this feature on its support pages (Smith, 2002b), the feature is on by default until a user completes a series of steps hidden within a detailed privacy statement (Microsoft, 2003).

Other companies have also amassed consumers’ data without their knowledge. In 1999, researchers learned that Comet Cursor was tracking the clickstreams of over 16 million people who downloaded the free software (Oakes, 1999). Other companies that have tracked, or are tracking, online user movements include RealNetworks, DoubleClick, HitBox, and X10. Some companies, such as DoubleClick, had discontinued tracking in favor of consumer privacy because of lawsuits and user complaints (Krill, 2002). However, Google’s pending acquisition of DoubleClick raises new concerns (EPIC, 2007).

Ultimately, while many of these e-businesses have either changed data collection practices or written the procedures into privacy policies, users still are not always aware of the privacy implications. Moreover, much amassing of data is conducted without users’ awareness. Companies such as WebTrends specialize in offering e-businesses detailed user data and Web site usage in order to analyze what users do at the e-business site (WebTrends, 2007). Users are not usually made aware of the clickstream tracking, page views, or other data being collected about them with each click and view of a Web page within a site.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Kuanchin Chen, Adam Fadlalla
Chapter 1
Andrew Pauxtis
What began as simple homepages that listed favorite Web sites in the early 1990’s have grown into some of the most sophisticated, enormous... Sample PDF
Google: Technological Convenience vs. Technological Intrusion
Chapter 2
Angelena M. Secor
In this chapter, consumer online privacy legal issues are identified and discussed. Followed by the literature review in consumer online privacy... Sample PDF
A Taxonomic View of Consumer Online Privacy Legal Issues, Legislation, and Litigation
Chapter 3
Hy Sockel, Louis K. Falk
There are many potential threats that come with conducting business in an online environment. Management must find a way to neutralize or at least... Sample PDF
Online Privacy, Vulnerabilities, and Threats: A Manager's Perspective
Chapter 4
Thejs Willem Jansen
Governments and large companies are increasingly relying on information technology to provide enhanced services to the citizens and customers and... Sample PDF
Practical Privacy Assessments
Chapter 5
Leszek Lilien, Bharat Bhargava
Any interaction—from a simple transaction to a complex collaboration—requires an adequate level of trust between interacting parties. Trust includes... Sample PDF
Privacy and Trust in Online Interactions
Chapter 6
Huong Ha, Ken Coghill
The current measures to protect e-consumers’ privacy in Australia include (i) regulation/legislation; (ii) guidelines; (iii) codes of practice; and... Sample PDF
Current Measures to Protect E-Consumers' Privacy in Australia
Chapter 7
Anil Gurung, Anurag Jain
Individuals are generally concerned about their privacy and may withhold from disclosing their personal information while interacting with online... Sample PDF
Antecedents of Online Privacy Protection Behavior: Towards an Integrative Model
Chapter 8
Alan Rea, Kuanchin Chen
Protecting personal information while Web surfing has become a struggle. This is especially the case when transactions require a modicum of trust to... Sample PDF
Privacy Control and Assurance: Does Gender Influence Online Information Exchange?
Chapter 9
Bernadette H. Schell, Thomas J. Holt
This chapter looks at the literature—myths and realities—surrounding the demographics, psychological predispositions, and social/behavioral patterns... Sample PDF
A Profile of the Demographics, Psychological Predispositions, and Social/Behavioral Patterns of Computer Hacker Insiders and Outsiders
Chapter 10
Chiung-wen ("Julia") Hsu
This chapter introduces a situational paradigm as a means of studying online privacy. It argues that data subjects are not always opponent to data... Sample PDF
Privacy or Performance Matters on the Internet: Revisiting Privacy Toward a Situational Paradigm
Chapter 11
Tom S. Chan
While delivering content via the Internet can be efficient and economical, content owners risk losing control of their intellectual property. Any... Sample PDF
Online Consumer Privacy and Digital Rights Management Systems
Chapter 12
Betty J. Parker
Marketing practices have always presented challenges for consumers seeking to protect their privacy. This chapter discusses the ways in which the... Sample PDF
Online Privacy and Marketing: Current Issues for Consumers and Marketers
Chapter 13
Suhong Li
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the current status of online privacy policies of Fortune 100 Companies. It was found that 94% of the... Sample PDF
An Analysis of Online Privacy Policies of Fortune 100 Companies
Chapter 14
Andy Chiou
In this chapter, the authors will briefly discuss some cross cultural concerns regarding Internet privacy. The authors believe that due to the cross... Sample PDF
Cross Cultural Perceptions on Privacy in the United States, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan
Chapter 15
Sean Lancaster
Biometrics is an application of technology to authenticate users’ identities through the measurement of physiological or behavioral patterns. The... Sample PDF
Biometric Controls and Privacy
Chapter 16
G. Scott Erickson
This chapter focuses on the specific issue of the federal Freedom of Information Act and associated state and local freedom of information laws.... Sample PDF
Government Stewardship of Online Information: FOIA Requirements and Other Considerations
Chapter 17
Charles O’Mahony
This chapter will discuss the legal framework for consumer and data protection in Europe. Central to this discussion will be the law of the European... Sample PDF
The Legal Framework for Data and Consumer Protection in Europe
Chapter 18
Karin Mika
This chapter provides an overview of law relating to online and Internet medical practice, data protection, and consumer information privacy. It... Sample PDF
Cybermedicine, Telemedicine, and Data Protection in the United States
Chapter 19
J. Michael Tarn
This chapter explores the current status and practices of online privacy protection in Japan. Since the concept of privacy in Japan is different... Sample PDF
Online Privacy Protection in Japan: The Current Status and Practices
About the Contributors