Do consumers understand the role of PRIVACY SEALS in e-commerce? Source: Moores, T. (2005, March). Do consumers understand the role of privacy seals in e-commerce? Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, 48(3), 86-91.
TRUSTe Released in June, 1997 by a consortium of CommerceNet, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Boston Consulting Group. Charges companies from $599 to $75,000 depending on annual revenue and/or number of brands. Provides oversight and complaint resolution services. Current seal: Former seal:
WebTrust Released in September, 1997 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Cost to companies depends on the time it takes a public accountant to inspect the website, estimated at between 50 and 100 hours. Has no oversight or complaint procedures. Current seal:
BBBOnline Former seals: Released in March, 1999 by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Charges companies from $200 to $7,000 depending on annual revenue and/or number of brands. Has no oversight procedure, but does provide complaint resolution services. Current seal:
How do consumers react to these privacy seals? In a university study, 143 people were asked to browse five well-known websites (Yahoo!, Dell, Compaq, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon). Afterward, the participants were shown the three leading privacy seals, and then asked if they recognized any of the seals from the websites. A fourth, fictitious seal (called “Web Shield”) was also presented to the participants. The design for this seal was borrowed from Microsoft ClipArt The participants were also asked eight questions that investigated their general understanding of privacy seals.
Recognition of privacy seals 100% Percentage of participants that recognized each seal: 42% 29% 15% 8%
Findings “The results of this study suggest that respondents do not fully understand the form or function of privacy seals, few can recognize the genuine article, some ‘recognize’ seals that do not exist, and few see them as important in deciding to trust a website.” Meanwhile, privacy seals proliferate on the web…