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e-Privacy Research: a New Disciplinary Borderland.
Unformatted Document Text:  * 12 companies with a shoping corner. When we are in front of an electronic form, then we receive in 33% of the cases a clear signal on or near that form that we will enter our personal data in a secured environment. In 29% of the order forms additional information is given about the protection of the transaction. Some website managers are even so confident that they "accept credit card data through a secure server. 100% safe". A majority of websites divulges nothing about the security of the online registered personal data. Besides the identification of the responsible, the goals of the processing and the privacy rights of the consumer is there any other interesting information given in the statement? For example, a concrete reference to the law exists in 56% of the privacy statements (47% in 2001). A majority refers to the law as "the law of 8 December 1992", but for the consumer this is far from informative. Very seldom one refers to the new legislation (of 11 December 1998). Only a few times one names the "law on the protection of privacy" or "privacy law" and other alternatives. We can try to explain this increase of reference to the law by stressing that after the new Belgian law came into effect, some media coverage could have inspired more marketers and webmasters to know the law and refer to it in their privacy pledge. The only absent instance in the majority of the privacy policies is the Privacy Commission, the watch-dog of the privacy law that a.o. gives advice to the government and parliament, supports the citizen in the application of his or her rights and where more information can be obtained concerning the law. In a few cases the co-ordinates of that Commission are mentioned (12%). It could be interesting to have a hyperlink from the name to the homepage of the Commission (conf. http://www.privacy.fgov.be). On some websites minimalist 'privacy formulas' are shown, such as: "We respect the privacy law", "The privacy of the visitor is protected", "Your privacy is 100% guaranteed", or "We respect the law of 08.12.92", that supposes that the consumer puts automatically the link between the date and the privacy law. Other privacy statements exaggerate the other way, namely too formal, too tedious, too much details. They are more boring than interesting and inspiring confidence (for examples, conf. Walrave, 2001a & 2001b). Certain statements are submerged on a webpage about general conditions. They do not present the protection of the privacy as the in-house philosophy and do not attribute a place of honour to it. In the mind of those website managers it is only a legally obliged formula that has to be mentioned somewhere on the website. Such, often hardly intelligible, formulas give a very consumer-unfriendly impression. Now and then the consumer's rights are disregarded bluntly and the privacy statement is only written from the firm's and not from the consumer's point of view. It becomes then a kind of 'disclaimer', trying to get rid of as much as possible responsibility. This 'privacy statement' is sometimes reduced to an 'enter at one's own risk'- warning. It is advised to put a concise but a complete and easy to understand privacy statement on or near an electronic form where the visitor will enter personal data. More details, answers on specific questions could be put on a FAQ-page (Frequently Asked Questions). Privacy can be a chapter on the general FAQ- page, or a separate webpage can be dedicated to as well the privacy policy as to the technological protection of the data, the transaction and other consumer's rights. If the website is drawn up in different languages, it is recommended that the privacy statement is formulated in those different languages. The style and vocabulary used must be adapted at the target group(s).

Authors: Walrave, Michel.
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12
companies with a shoping corner. When we are in front of an electronic form,
then we receive in 33% of the cases a clear signal on or near that form that we
will enter our personal data in a secured environment. In 29% of the order forms
additional information is given about the protection of the transaction. Some
website managers are even so confident that they "accept credit card data
through a secure server. 100% safe". A majority of websites divulges nothing
about the security of the online registered personal data.
Besides the identification of the responsible, the goals of the processing and the
privacy rights of the consumer is there any other interesting information given in
the statement? For example, a concrete reference to the law exists in 56% of the
privacy statements (47% in 2001). A majority refers to the law as "the law of 8
December 1992", but for the consumer this is far from informative. Very seldom
one refers to the new legislation (of 11 December 1998). Only a few times one
names the "law on the protection of privacy" or "privacy law" and other
alternatives. We can try to explain this increase of reference to the law by
stressing that after the new Belgian law came into effect, some media coverage
could have inspired more marketers and webmasters to know the law and refer
to it in their privacy pledge.
The only absent instance in the majority of the privacy policies is the Privacy
Commission, the watch-dog of the privacy law that a.o. gives advice to the
government and parliament, supports the citizen in the application of his or her
rights and where more information can be obtained concerning the law. In a few
cases the co-ordinates of that Commission are mentioned (12%). It could be
interesting to have a hyperlink from the name to the homepage of the
Commission (conf. http://www.privacy.fgov.be).
On some websites minimalist 'privacy formulas' are shown, such as: "We respect
the privacy law", "The privacy of the visitor is protected", "Your privacy is 100%
guaranteed", or "We respect the law of 08.12.92", that supposes that the
consumer puts automatically the link between the date and the privacy law.
Other privacy statements exaggerate the other way, namely too formal, too
tedious, too much details. They are more boring than interesting and inspiring
confidence (for examples, conf. Walrave, 2001a & 2001b). Certain statements
are submerged on a webpage about general conditions. They do not present the
protection of the privacy as the in-house philosophy and do not attribute a place
of honour to it. In the mind of those website managers it is only a legally obliged
formula that has to be mentioned somewhere on the website. Such, often hardly
intelligible, formulas give a very consumer-unfriendly impression. Now and then
the consumer's rights are disregarded bluntly and the privacy statement is only
written from the firm's and not from the consumer's point of view. It becomes
then a kind of 'disclaimer', trying to get rid of as much as possible responsibility.
This 'privacy statement' is sometimes reduced to an 'enter at one's own risk'-
warning.
It is advised to put a concise but a complete and easy to understand privacy
statement on or near an electronic form where the visitor will enter personal
data. More details, answers on specific questions could be put on a FAQ-page
(Frequently Asked Questions). Privacy can be a chapter on the general FAQ-
page, or a separate webpage can be dedicated to as well the privacy policy as to
the technological protection of the data, the transaction and other consumer's
rights. If the website is drawn up in different languages, it is recommended that
the privacy statement is formulated in those different languages. The style and
vocabulary used must be adapted at the target group(s).


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