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Examining Internet Privacy Policies Within the Context of User Privacy Values

Internet privacy policies describe an organization’s practices on data collection, use, and disclosure. These privacy policies both protect the organization and signal integrity commitment to site visitors. Consumers use the stated website policies to guide browsing and transaction decisions. This paper compares the classes of privacy protection goals (which express desired protection of consumer privacy rights) and vulnerabilities (which potentially threaten consumer privacy) with consumer privacy values. For this study, we looked at privacy policies from nearly 50 websites and surveyed over 1000 Internet users. We examined Internet users’ major expectations about website privacy and revealed a notable discrepancy between what privacy policies are currently stating and what users deem most significant. Our findings suggest several implications to privacy managers and software project managers. Results from this study can help managers determine the kinds of policies needed to both satisfy user values and ensure privacy-aware website development efforts.

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