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e-Privacy Research: a New Disciplinary Borderland.
Unformatted Document Text:  * 16 the wishes and necessities of the website visitors. But for the management of the personal data, the consumer looses all control in many cases. How can it been explained that, more than seven years after the original Belgian privacy legislation and in the year wherein the new (more stringent) law is put in force, the privacy policy of many websites is deficient or non existent? Firstly, we suspect a lack of knowledge about the consumer's rights, that have to be respected on the internet, but also in distance selling in general. Maybe a great uncertainty exists about which legislation is in force in internationally directed websites. Besides we can attest that the obligations, that a website has to meet, are dispersed over several laws. Some European directives are already converted into the Belgian law, others not yet. In short, for the beginning manager on the internet, it is sometimes a real puzzle to gain discernment in the rights of his website or e-shop visitors. That e-shops score better than general corporate websites, can maybe be explained by the fact that an online shop wants to offer all possible guarantees in order to incite the visitor to buy. The e-shops are also subject to the regulations for distance selling. Postorder companies, teleshopping channels and other shops going online, have already the necessary experience in that domain. As e-shops collect also sensitive data (credit card number, ...) guarantees about confidentiality of these data is a must. Besides, we suspect also a lack of knowledge of the website managers about the sensibilities, (preconceived) opinions and priorities of internet users. Considering that the effectiveness of online advertising and direct marketing can be measured better and better and also the number of visitors on a site and their surfing behaviour, one looks maybe only at the quantitative measurements to evaluate one's online communication. Internet marketing, and online and off line direct marketing are very response pointed. The results of the communication are mostly evaluated only by quantitative standards over a short period. How to stimulate the trust, the long-term loyalty receive less attention, as these hardly measurable aspects contrast violently with the huge volumes of data generated by the surfing conduct and the transactions. But we are convinced that, in order to gain the consumer's confidence, the website visitor must be better informed about her or his rights and among other things about the privacy policy of the online business. In the online and off line direct marketing there is always an ear for the wishes and the needs of the consumer about products and services. But what is the consumer’s appraisal of and critics about the direct and interactive communication, that the firm uses to try to create a relationship with him or her individually? How strong or weak is the confidence of the consumer in the handling of personal data? These questions are still very often neglected by many businesses. The European dataprotection directive and the national privacy laws create maybe the opportunity of reflection about these questions. The corner-stone of the (Belgian) privacy law, and also of the European data protection directive, is the transparency by which the personal data have to be collected and processed. In our research we observed too many times that the contact with individual website visitors is used as a unique occasion to gather as much as possible personal data. A (small) incentive is used to stimulate the consumer to fill in a questionnaire. In the majority of the cases no information is given about the purposes and the utility of this collection of personal information. Although the individualisation of a website's contents and of the offer of products and services is vital for the future of e-commerce, clear engagements have to be made between the

Authors: Walrave, Michel.
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the wishes and necessities of the website visitors. But for the management of the
personal data, the consumer looses all control in many cases.
How can it been explained that, more than seven years after the original Belgian
privacy legislation and in the year wherein the new (more stringent) law is put in
force, the privacy policy of many websites is deficient or non existent?
Firstly, we suspect a lack of knowledge about the consumer's rights, that have to
be respected on the internet, but also in distance selling in general. Maybe a
great uncertainty exists about which legislation is in force in internationally
directed websites. Besides we can attest that the obligations, that a website has
to meet, are dispersed over several laws. Some European directives are already
converted into the Belgian law, others not yet. In short, for the beginning
manager on the internet, it is sometimes a real puzzle to gain discernment in the
rights of his website or e-shop visitors.
That e-shops score better than general corporate websites, can maybe be
explained by the fact that an online shop wants to offer all possible guarantees in
order to incite the visitor to buy. The e-shops are also subject to the regulations
for distance selling. Postorder companies, teleshopping channels and other shops
going online, have already the necessary experience in that domain. As e-shops
collect also sensitive data (credit card number, ...) guarantees about
confidentiality of these data is a must.
Besides, we suspect also a lack of knowledge of the website managers about the
sensibilities, (preconceived) opinions and priorities of internet users. Considering
that the effectiveness of online advertising and direct marketing can be
measured better and better and also the number of visitors on a site and their
surfing behaviour, one looks maybe only at the quantitative measurements to
evaluate one's online communication. Internet marketing, and online and off line
direct marketing are very response pointed. The results of the communication
are mostly evaluated only by quantitative standards over a short period. How to
stimulate the trust, the long-term loyalty receive less attention, as these hardly
measurable aspects contrast violently with the huge volumes of data generated
by the surfing conduct and the transactions.
But we are convinced that, in order to gain the consumer's confidence, the
website visitor must be better informed about her or his rights and among other
things about the privacy policy of the online business. In the online and off line
direct marketing there is always an ear for the wishes and the needs of the
consumer about products and services. But what is the consumer’s appraisal of
and critics about the direct and interactive communication, that the firm uses to
try to create a relationship with him or her individually? How strong or weak is
the confidence of the consumer in the handling of personal data? These
questions are still very often neglected by many businesses.
The European dataprotection directive and the national privacy laws create
maybe the opportunity of reflection about these questions. The corner-stone of
the (Belgian) privacy law, and also of the European data protection directive, is
the transparency by which the personal data have to be collected and processed.
In our research we observed too many times that the contact with individual
website visitors is used as a unique occasion to gather as much as possible
personal data.
A (small) incentive is used to stimulate the consumer to fill in a questionnaire. In
the majority of the cases no information is given about the purposes and the
utility of this collection of personal information. Although the individualisation of
a website's contents and of the offer of products and services is vital for the
future of e-commerce, clear engagements have to be made between the


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