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CANADIANS STILL NOT SOLD ON NET PRIVACY POLICIES

Seven out of 10 consumers surveyed said they would be more likely to do business with a company that has a privacy seal than one that does not.

Source: National Post

Posted on January 17, 2001

      Canadian consumers want companies they do business with on the Internet to pay more attention to their privacy concerns, a new survey released yesterday suggests.

      The survey, commissioned by Derivion Corp. of Atlanta, measured the attitudes of Canadian consumers about privacy on the Internet. Not surprisingly, eight out of 10 Canadian consumers are concerned about protecting their privacy when participating in online activities.

      It appears, though, that Canadians are so concerned that many of them -- 40% according to the survey -- do not believe that online companies will actually honour privacy policies posted at their site.

      By comparison, just 9% of U.S. consumers do not believe companies will honour their own privacy policies, according to an August survey by the National Consumers League, a Washington-based advocacy group.

      But the survey of Canadian consumers also found that 40% of Canadians who use the World Wide Web would be more inclined to participate in some kinds of online transactions if they had greater assurances that their privacy would not be compromised, a finding that has important implications for businesses trying to sell goods and services to consumers over the Internet.

      Indeed, Dushyant Sharma, Derivion's co-founder and chief technology officer, said companies should pay as much attention to their privacy policies as they do to any other customer care issue.

      "We think businesses should be able to position privacy as a competitive advantage," Mr. Sharma said yesterday. The poll, done by the Gallup Organization, asked consumers whether they would be more comfortable about online transactions if the site had a privacy seal or some other demonstration that a third-party audit of its privacy policies has been completed. Seven out of 10 consumers surveyed said they would be more likely to do business with a company that has a privacy seal than one that does not.

      For the poll, Gallup randomly selected 1,000 Canadians. Of those, 420 did not have Internet access and were not included in the study. Gallup said the results from the survey of the other 580 in the the study are accurate to within 4.1 percentage points 95% of the time.




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