Ponemon Institute released last month its list of the 20 most trusted companies for privacy. The list is compiled from an annual survey of 6,627 adults in the United States. Survey participants were asked to rank their most trusted companies from a list of companies provided. Highlights from this year's survey:
"Among the brands that made the top twenty were four not listed in the previous study, including Google, Weight Watchers, Walmart, and AT&T. Of the companies listed last year, Facebook, AOL, and eLoan did not make the 2010 list. 2009 was a tumultuous year for privacy, as illustrated by Facebook’s drop out of the top twenty in a year when they found themselves at the center of a very public debate over the evolution of their privacy policies and settings."
It's good to see that there is a "cost" when a Web site or company has confusing or constantly changing privacy policies and rules. Some other highlights:
"Consumers feel they are losing control of personal information: Only 41 percent of consumers feel they have control over their personal information, down from 45 last year and an overall drop from 56 percent in 2006."
The next finding definitely caught my attention:
"Identity theft is top of mind: 59 percent of consumers said fear of identity theft was a major factor in brand trust diminishment, and 50 percent said notice of a data breach was a factor. Other significant threats to brand trust were abuse of civil liberties and annoying “background chatter” in public venues."
The Top 10 most-trusted companies for privacy (with their prior year ranking in parentheses):
1. American Express (1)
2. IBM (3)
3. Johnson & Johnson (5)
4. Hewlett Packard (6)
5. E-bay (2)
6. U.S. Postal Service (6)
7. Procter & Gamble (7)
8. Amazon.com (4)
8. Nationwide (9)
9. USAA (11)
10. WebMD (13)
Google was ranked #13. Read the press release to browse the complete list of all twenty ranked companies. I'll be a number of CEOs are wondering how the United States Postal Service outranked them. Who says that a government agency doesn't work well?
AT&T's jump up the list could be related to the telecommunications company's public statement about its behavioral targeting policy, which is more consumer-friendly than most companies. Then again, maybe the public has forgotten about AT&T's role with internal spying.
For a year-to-year comparison of the top 20 companies for privacy, see Mike Spinney's blog at the Ponemon site.