Study: Web Sites Lack Basic Protections

Share this content:
More than two-thirds of American and European consumer Web sites collect personal information but lack basic privacy protections, according to a privacy study released last month by 13 member organizations of Consumers International, a global organization comprising 263 consumer groups.

The study examined 751 consumer Web sites from March to July last year.

Participating consumer groups surfed consumer Web sites and noted privacy practices, including whether personal information was collected, whether a privacy policy was in place, whether an opt out was available and whether cookies were used.

"Widespread neglect of good privacy practice is all the more worrying when you consider that electronic technologies for collection of data develop so rapidly," said Anna Fielder, director of the office for developed and transition economies at Consumers International, London.

According to the survey findings, 58 percent of sites that collected data had privacy policies in place but only 32.5 percent of those sites alerted users to the policy at the point of data collection.

Of all sites surveyed, 39 percent had access to a privacy policy from the home page.

The 177 U.S.-based sites categorized as "most popular" fared better, with 62.5 percent alerting users to a privacy policy at the point of data collection and 97.5 percent posting privacy policies clearly on the site.

The "most popular" category was determined by site traffic and covered a range of heavily used sites.

Overall, only 20 percent of the surveyed Web sites offered users a choice of opting out of the site's mailing list. Nine percent allowed users to opt out of affiliates' lists, and 9.5 percent had an opt out for third-party lists. On the "most popular" U.S. sites, those percentages increased to 57.5 percent, 42.5 percent and 47.5 percent, respectively.

By setting their browsers to alert them when Web sites placed cookies, the study found that more than one-third of all sites visited tried to place at least one cookie.

Also, cookies were placed by 92 percent of U.S. "most popular" sites in the study.

Of the Web sites used for this study, 340 were U.S. sites and 339 were European Union sites.

The American Council on Consumer Interests participated in the study.

Next Article in Marketing Strategy

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above