Companies with Real Online Privacy Guarantees Will Succeed, Survey Says daboost/iStock/ThinkStock

Companies with Real Online Privacy Guarantees Will Succeed, Survey Says

A survey from TRUSTe and the National Cyber Security Alliance says Americans want more online privacy and data security, and avoid companies that fail to provide.

Judging from the level of online privacy and digital security available from most companies today, it may seem that few Americans care much about these things. But it turns out that online privacy is the top concern of 68 percent of them, or so a recent survey suggests.

The survey, which was commissioned by privacy company TRUSTe and the National Cyber Security Alliance, asked Americans in December 2015 about their attitudes toward online privacy. It revealed a broad disparity between people's concerns about online privacy and their level of understanding about how companies use their information online. 92 percent of respondents who use the Internet said they worry about online privacy, but only 31 percent reported understanding what companies do with personal information.

But that's not stopping consumers from avoiding businesses that they feel are not respecting their online privacy. 89 percent of respondents reported doing so.

The survey also made clear that online privacy is a persistent concern, with 45 percent of respondents saying they care more about their privacy now than they did a year ago.

Most remarkably, 68 percent of people surveyed said they are more worried about understanding how their information is used online than they are about the possibility of losing their main source of income.

That should send a message to businesses. In an era when consumers care more about online privacy than they do about keeping their jobs, clearer privacy and data security policies would appear to be a clear selling point for products and services. And given the apparent concern among consumers for understanding how companies use their data, it seems necessary to do more than make generic promises about protecting privacy. Companies that explain in detail exactly what they do with personal information, and how they keep it secure, would appeal to consumers, according to these survey results.

Of course, preventing massive IT security breaches would help, too. Promises about online privacy look very shabby when an organization has to report that a database was hacked and millions of users' information may have been compromised.

For the channel, the message is clear: Pairing detailed, genuine assurances about privacy with effective IT security practices is the key to gaining users' trust.

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