Online shopping trust and privacy protection

Convenience from online shopping is undeniable; however, privacy threats are also unaddressed.

The rise of E-commerce has brought a lot of benefits for not only consumers but also businesses. To complete the online purchasing transaction, buyers have to submit their personal data so the merchants can store it. That’s when tracking technologies are in place to collect the information. This leads to the raising concern towards privacy among online buyers whether their private information is confidentially stored or shared with other parties.

(Source: Tmo Group)

It is obvious to feel annoyed and angry when our private information being kicked around like a football game. However, if we don’t want to share our buying interest with others, we have to go directly to the store. This unwillingness contributes to the development of E-commerce as well as the scarification of online privacy.

Although privacy is a big concern, the convenience from online shopping seems to outweigh it. The truth reveals that consumers won’t stop buying online products because of that (Enright, 2012). They worry, but they still purchase.

Actually, the consumers also have benefits from sharing their buying interest by receiving more relevant ads. According to Fiegerman (2012), 61% of online shoppers would trade privacy for personalized ads and they are quite comfortable knowing that their favorite brands are tracking their behavior to offer future purchase. This indicates trust between the sellers and the buyers. A research from Shah et al (2013) reveals that consumers are more likely to trust websites or brands that state clearly what they are going to do with consumers’ private information. Another reason to trust a brand/website is because of its recognition.

 For big and trustworthy brands, this is a huge advantage for both consumers and business. However, what is the situation if your private information is shared with a third party that you don’t even know when purchasing on a strange shopping website? Then, the privacy issue is really matter. Although consumers still can receive relevant promotion ads from various brands through Google and Facebook, the threat of identity thief is bigger.

(Source: 3Rivers)

Purchasing online of course requires online money transaction. One reason that consumers are afraid of online shopping is due to the fear of losing private information including credit card number, home and email address (Arlington, 2007). Consequently, besides credit card paying, some shopping websites such as Hotdeal and Tiki now offer cash paying with free delivery service directly to buyers’ house. 

As a result, here are some advice on how to secure your private information and prevent identity thief from online shopping.

  • Keep your computer safe – make sure you get the last updated anti-virus and spyware software.
  • Only shop at websites you trust – Research that website before you make an order; if the website address is https://, not http://, it means the web is secured.
  • Secure your private information – Read the security and privacy policy; always keep your password private; never show your social security numbers.
  • Make copies of your orders
  • Frequently check your credit card

(Source: Youtube) 


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Arlington V.A., 2007, ‘Privacy Issues and ID Theft are Top Concerns of Online Shoppers, According to New Survey by BBB: BBB Offers Advice for a Safe Holiday Shopping Experience’, Better Business Bureau, 20 November, viewed August 6 2014,

Enright A., 2012, ‘Consumers worry about online privacy, but shop anyway’, Internet Retailer, May 11, viewed August 6 2014,

Fiegerman S., 2012, ‘61% of Online Shoppers Would Trade Privacy for Personalization’, Mashable, November 21, viewed August 6 2014,

Shah M.H., Okeke R. & Ahmed R., 2013, ‘Issue of Privacy and Trust in E-Commerce: Exploring Customer’s Perspective’, Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific Research, Vol.3, No.3, pp.571-577.    


People are giving up their privacy for free service

Instead of paying money, we are selling ourselves as products to get free services. This is the inevitable bargain that all have to deal with whenever joining the Internet.

While searching for some Japanese food restaurants on, switching back to Facebook, I saw a lot of Japanese food vouchers from on the sidebar. ‘’Really!! What a coincidence’’. That was how innocent I was back then. As we surf the web, we are tracked by many parties so do we have anything called privacy?

The issues regarding internet privacy have always been debated times to times with lots of conflicting opinions. Trading privacy for free services can be the worst deal for many internet users. However, in the beginning, your private information doesn’t seem to be valuable to you than to advertising and commercial firms as you choose to enter the web. So why bother your privacy now?

Actually, internet users face the privacy bargain almost every day.  How many times that you read similar text like this in a day?

(Source: Michigan)

The fact is that we almost or always are not persistent to read until the end but simply tick the box which accepts to use the website. Moreover, internet users even think that privacy policy means they have online privacy. Despite being called a deal, users actually don’t have a chance to negotiate before. As result, to use the website/service for free, your private information has to be the buffet. The CEO of Mozilla, Gary Kovacs (2012) even claims that this behavioral tracking is a huge business industry. It is the use of technology tool to follow our cyber footprint and collect data from us. Then the profile is sold for advertising firms with a large amount of money and what they do with our profile is questionable.     

Why do people seem unconcern about privacy? It’s not true, we do treasure privacy but we can do nothing to keep it private in the technology world. Since 2012, Google set a new privacy policy which allows information collected from one Google service will be shared across its other services including YouTube, Google Plus and Blogger (Cellan-Jones, 2012). If you don’t want your private data to be stored and shared like that, you just simply get rid of Google. However, the problem is that whether we can fight against giant Internet service like Google and accept stay away from the knowledge on the Internet or even commit ‘virtual identity suicide’. Hence, most people have to sacrifice their profile.

(Source: Google)

Information collected from one Google service will be shared across its other services

 In general, It seems that the convenience that the free services bring to us outweigh online privacy so it is also quite a fair trade. Furthermore, although online privacy is a raising concern, it does not change Internet using habit among consumers. According to a survey from Ericsson (2014), there are 56 percent of internet users from Thailand, Pakistan, America, Mexico and Egypt are aware of securing their private data. However, only 4 percent of them claim to use the Internet less.

Since there is nearly nothing we can do to stop online tracking so the only way to protect yourself is to be aware that there is no privacy in cyber culture. Therefore, be careful with what you do and share on the internet or use protection tool to protect your private data.

(Source: Youtube)

The Breadcrumbs Privacy Project

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Cellan-Jones R., 2012, ‘Google: What do new rules mean for you?’, BBC News, March 1st, viewed August 5, 2014,

Ericsson ConsumerLab, 2014, ’10 hot consumers trend 2014’, Ericsson ConsumerLab Analytical Platform 2013,

Kovacs G, 2012, ‘Tracking our online trackers’, video recording, TED, viewed 5 August 2014,

The Panopticon is not scary anymore in the digital world

If our world is now like Panopticon, it seems that many of us enjoy being prisoners by showing our private things to others

There is no doubt that we are living in a society where any kind of information is shared and received globally. The question is that ‘Is there anything called privacy exists in this digital world?’.  In his book, The Virtual Community, Rheingold (1993) believes that Internet society now is like a Panopticon where everyone is tracked and observed. However, in my opinion, instead of being afraid of being watched, some people really enjoy sharing their privacy for others to know in this surveillance society by through social media. Even though people can choose to be part of the Internet or not, they still want to join it and try the given amazing experience from technology devices.

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Panopticon enable even a single inspector to observe all of the prisoners while they cannot see anything else

The ancient Panopticon is full of anxiety and scare where prisoners are always under surveillance and do not have a choice to avoid it. Compare to today Panopticon, people actually are active to join the Internet society. They can also get rid of the Big Brothers such as Google or Facebook by refusing to use the technology. There is no tangible force pushing us to be part if this surveillance culture, but the information flow, the advance of technology is. According to Brignall III (2002), we also the ones who want to share our private information or not. However, if a friend or relative is on the Internet, this person will spread it on non-users. Instead of being threatened, they rather are asked and invited to join. It can be said that they are willing to give up privacy and comfortable to be watched.


Moreover, with the web 2.0, people can experience what they cannot try before which is sharing. It results in the desire to share all kind of information even privacy to the whole world. Before, we used to have diary which only its owner can read. Then, we have blog which enables others to read and comments. Now, the rise of social media, with sharing option, the term ‘privacy’ no longer exists anymore when status, feeling, pictures and also places are shared globally. Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, even said that “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” (2010).


In Vietnam nowadays, the problem of privacy is becoming serious and dangerous, especially to teenagers. They share status, pictures minute by minute on Facebook and Instagram. They even use social media as a tool to get famous. What I found ridiculous is that some teen girls even bring bed stuff, couple argument on Facebook. It seems that social media is like a stage for them to perform to be famous rather than a prison like Panopticon where everyone is afraid of being observed. Instead, they enjoy being watched and followed. There’s also an assumption that the more friends you get on Facebook, the more popular you are.

(Source: Youtube)

The girl who love selfie – A warn to teen girls who get addicted to social media

So, do people in the digital age care about their privacy anymore? Are they scared that they are a prisoner in Panopticon? I guess NO unless something bad happens to them due to it. There are also some promotional videos to raise awareness about this issue. To conclude, online privacy is a serious issue nowadays and Internet users, especially the youth, need to be aware of and understand the danger of it.

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Brignall III T., 2002, ‘The New Panopticon: The Internet Viewed as a Structure of Social Control’, Theory and Science, Vol.3, No.1.

Johnson B., 2010, ‘Privacy no longer a social norm, says Facebook founder’, The Guardian, 11 January, viewed 17 July 2014,

Rheingold H., 1993, ‘The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier’, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, England.