TRUSTe, a global data privacy firm, released this week the results of its 2014 U.S. Consumer Confidence Index. Key findings:
- Trust continues to fall: 55 percent of U.S. Internet users trust companies with their personal information online, compared with 57 percent in January 2013 and 59 percent in January 2012
- Business impact remains high: 89 percent of U.S. Internet users say they avoid companies that do not protect their privacy, compated with 89 percent in January 2013 and 88 percent in January 2012
- Consumers' concerns about online privacy remain high: 92 percent of U.S. Internet users say they worry about their privacy, compared to 89 percent in January 2013 and 90 percent in January 2012
- 76 percent of users are more likely to check Web sites and apps for privacy certifications and seals
Harris Interactive conducted the online survey of 2,019 adults for TRUSTe during December 2013. was Chris Babel, CEO of TRUSTe said:
"Even with all the media coverage of government surveillance programs such as the NSA’s PRISM, more consumers remain concerned about businesses collecting their information with only 55 percent regularly willing to share their personal data online. These findings send a clear signal that business data collection, not government activity, is the main driver for increased privacy concerns... While some businesses are taking steps today to address privacy concerns, many are not, and the bar is rising."
Good. A raised bar is a good thing.
In its press release, TRUSTe announced:
"74 percent of U.S. internet users are more concerned about privacy than a year ago and more users cite business data collection, than government surveillance programs, as the reason for the increase in their concerns."
So, consumers are afraid for their privacy with both, and more afraid for their privacy with companies. Both company and government executives would be wise to heed this advice about collecting consumers' sensitive personal information:
If you collect it, tell consumers and protect it. If you can't (or won't) tell consumers nor protect it, then don't collect it.