privacy policy

Paying for Online Privacy

Indeed, many consumers do not even check Web site privacy policies when they divulge their sensitive personally identifiable information. Yet, according to a recent report, when consumers are given a specific choice, many may actually pay more money during a transaction in return for privacy protection.

The report, prepared by Lorrie Cranor, who directs the Carnegie Mellon Usable Privacy and Security Labs, documents that consumers would pay an extra 60 cents for privacy protection on purchases of $15. Cranor came to this result by way of a hypothetical experiment.

In the experiment, participants were asked to buy a set of batteries and a sex toy. The sex toy was added into the mix to ascertain whether consumers might take extra steps to protect their personally identifiable information as part of this sensitive transaction. Interestingly, when participants had the option of making these purchases from a site that clearly posted its privacy policy and another that did not do so, they were inclined to pay a bit more to go with the site that plainly set forth its privacy policy.