LITERATURE REVIEW – SECOND DRAFT
PRIVACY AND SECURITY ISSUES IN ONLINE SHOPPING
Shopping online has never been so easy. With the flourishing numbers of online merchants, people nowadays have various choices to do their shopping. Big companies such as eBay and amazon.com have introduced many value added features to help the customers to decide what to shop for. With features such as price comparison, product photos and user reviews, consumers can shop easily and smartly without even going to the stores and having such a hard time looking for the products they want. All they have to do are just browse for the product they want in the website and within a few mouse clicks they are off. Such simplicity is what makes online shopping appealing for consumers. The question is, why do many people still deny to shop online? Well, for most people, privacy and security issues are their concerns. Hence, here I will discuss customers’ perception of privacy and security issues, the reality of such issues and ways to avoid those issues, all based on some trustworthy sources I have found.
To know customers’ perception of customer and security issues, I reviewed a scholarly article entitled “Consumer Perceptions of Privacy and Security Risks for Online Shopping” produced in the Journal of Consumer Affairs. In the United States, more than half of the adult population uses the Internet and from that number, approximately half have shopped online (Sefton, qtd. in Miyazaki and Fernandez 28). Previous studies had shown that Internet users as a whole agreed that privacy and security issues are vital for them to shop online (Rohm and Milne, qtd. in Miyazaki and Fernandez 29). Most of them regard their personal information as their main concern (U.S. FTC, qtd. in Miyazaki and Fernandez 29). In the research conducted by Miyazaki and Fernandez, who are the authors of the articles themselves, privacy and security issues accounted for more than 65 percent of consumers’ main concern as oppose to the other 35 for shopping inconveniences and others (35). They also concluded that more experienced Internet users tend to have more concern regarding privacy issues but less concern on security issues (38). Nevertheless, consumers still consider both as their main concern for online shopping as suggested in the survey (35).
Now, after knowing that privacy and security issues are vital for consumers in online shopping, I would like to know the emphasis in the real world. From an article titled “The Myth of Secure E-Shopping” published in PC World, the reality of such issue is revealed. While most consumers trust big and well established online merchant such as CD Universe, Travelocity, Columbia House and Ikea, these big companies still receive frequent security threats (Kandra 29). Joseph McDonnell, a CEO of online security firm IShopSecure even confessed that all online firms must have received threats of some sorts (29). He added by saying that hackers could easily infiltrate and get customers personal information online as online shoppers are not anonymous. Experts also discover that security measures taken by online retailers are insufficient (29). For instance, data encryption only applies in actual transfer of customer data but not in the database which is ironically the most common targets for hackers. Some other sites however, do not even have privacy and security policy posted implying that they do not protect their customers (Hairell 30). This is what happened to Bibliofind when it was hacked hence compromising its customers’ credit information (Kandra 32). Apart from the retailers themselves, credit card processing firms and third party sites also receive threats (Kandra 30). Creditcards.com once had disclosed that someone had infiltrated its site and posted more than 55000 credit card numbers on the Internet. So, from all these indications, I can see that online shopping is not totally safe.
However, customer rights and security aspects are not just the responsibility of online merchants. To uphold them, the consumers themselves need to act. According to “Ten Things Your Mother Never Told You about Online Shopping” published in Yahoo! Internet Life, to be an ace consumer, online shoppers need to prepare themselves with some basics (Halpin 61). As the prominent method of payment is credit card, consumers should be more aware in handling it (62). They should never disclose their credit information via e-mail. Some of the credit card issuers also have some sorts of protection that consumers should apply for. Apart from that, consumers should limit themselves from releasing unnecessary personal information such as age and income to protect their privacy (Hood, qtd. in Halpin 62). Also, as Todd Richter who is the president of Girlshop (an e-commerce site) had said, consumers should always be aware of the security technology used by merchant sites (62). Technologies such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and VeriSign play vital part in distinguishing one site from another. Nonetheless, consumers should always be alert of the privacy and customer policy in each site they tend to buy from (Halpin 62). Lastly, if there are still dissatisfactions, consumers could always report them to consumer-related agencies such as Better Business Bureau or Federal Trade Commission (Halpin 63).
Thus, after reviewing these three reliable sources related to the privacy and security issues of online shopping, I can see some interconnections between them. By common sense, anyone who tends to shop online will think twice before they buy anything as to consider the privacy and security issues related to it. This is proven in my first source (“Consumer Perceptions of Privacy and Security Risks for Online Shopping”) through the survey. People are always conscious about their privacy and security. However, this is not the case in the real world. As my second source (“The Myth of Secure E-Shopping”) has proposed, even though online merchants have tried their best to beef up the security, threats and attacks still prevail. For this reason, consumer should act fast to protect their privacy when shopping online. My third source (“10 Things Your Mother Never Told You about Online Shopping”) explains many ways that consumers could do to enhance the privacy and security aspect apart from what online merchants have done for the same reason. Taking all these contents as a whole, I would say that in any situation, people can still shop online safely provided they understand the reality and take some precautions above all.
- Fernandez, Ana, and Anthony D. Miyazaki. “Consumer Perceptions of Privacy and Security Risks for Online Shopping.” The Journal of Consumer Affairs 35.1 : 27-44.
- Kandra, Anne. “The Myth of Secure E-shopping.” PC World July 2001: 29-32.
- Halpin, Mikki. “10 Things Your Mother Never Told You about Online Shopping” Yahoo! Internet Life (Winter 2000): 61-63.