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A BUYER'S-EYE VIEW OF ONLINE PURCHASING WORRIES.
The Internet is quickly becoming the world's largest public electronic marketplace. It is estimated to reach 50 million people worldwide, with growth estimates averaging approximately 10% per month. Innovative business professionals have discovered that the Internet can be exploited to offer a number of services both for their customers and for their strategic partners. The Internet has also revolutionized retail and direct marketing. Consumers are able to shop from their homes for a wide variety of products from manufacturers and retailers all over the world. They are able to view these products on their computers or televisions, access information about the products, visualize the way the products may fit together, and then order and pay for their choices. The Internet has changed modern business and presented a new paradigm of business relationships and transactions.
Despite the much-heralded recent successes in utilizing the Internet marketplace, one of the major impediments against full-scale integration of the Internet marketplace with modern business is the lack of confidence Internet consumers have in the newly developed marketing machinery [1, 2]. The most crucial issue that Internet consumers have identified is fear and distrust regarding loss of personal privacy associated with the emerging electronic commerce marketplace. One recent survey undertaken by Equifax and Harris Associates determined that over two-thirds of Internet consumers considered the privacy concern to be very important [3, 7].
Despite its importance, the available literature on Internet marketing and privacy is often ad hoc, sketchy, and at times contradictory. There is a clear need for systematic research to synthesize ideas from various sources in order to arrive at a comprehensive picture of the relevant issues. This article presents such a comprehensive picture from the consumer's privacy perspective. For companies engaging in Internet marketing, this article enables them to become better aware of consumer privacy issues and better equipped for the implementation of privacy codes for fair information practices. For consumers, this article provides a comprehensive picture of the issues involved and knowledge of the relevant privacy enhancing technologies and tools that they can use to protect themselves.
What is Consumer Privacy?
The term privacy is usually described as "the right to be let alone," and is related to solitude, secrecy, and autonomy. However, when associated with consumer activities that take place in the arena of the electronic marketplace, privacy usually refers to personal information and the invasion of privacy is usually interpreted as the unauthorized collection, disclosure, or other use of personal information as a direct result of electronic commerce transactions. When it comes to the invasion of personal information privacy, the types of personal information that are involved can be classified into two major categories based on their nature.
On the one hand, personal information that is not expected to change dramatically over time can be referred to as static private information, such as referential information, historical financial information, health information, personal affiliations and beliefs, and personal documents.
Other private information includes information that changes dramatically over time, but nevertheless can be collected and analyzed in such a way that a well-informed individual profile may be generated. This information is referred to as dynamic personal information, such as activity history and activity content.
A Taxonomy for Privacy Concerns
There exists a wide range of Internet marketing activities that have negative effects on the Internet consumer's individual privacy [5, 9]. The privacy concerns are not limited to the more well-known cases of junk mailing [6, 8], or illicit Web cookie distribution, but have expanded to certain practices that have …