RealTime IT News

Security, Privacy Remain Top Consumer Concerns

A new national survey shows that privacy and security concerns remain a nagging issue for Internet shoppers--but the ongoing boom in online sales indicates that many are increasingly comfortable with electronic commerce.

The survey by Westlake Village, CA-based free ISP NetZero polled 1,000 Americans, seeking to pinpoint their biggest concerns about shopping online.

Although the most popular response was "privacy and security"--cited by more than half the sample (53%)--other issues included "can't inspect product closely" (20%), "don't know how/too complicated" (6.4%), and "don't want to wait for delivery" (3%).

Of those polled--a sampling among the general population, not limited to Internet users--some 13 percent indicated they do not have any concerns about shopping online.

"While consumers may have concerns about shopping online, these concerns have not affected their shopping habits," said Ronald T. Burr, CEO of NetZero. "The value and convenience that shopping with mouse and modem provides far outweigh any security downside. Industry numbers--as well as numbers from our own NetZero shopping site--confirm that consumers like to shop online, since online spending exceeded $20 billion in '98 and our shopping site has seen a 100 percent increase in sales since January."

"Where privacy is concerned, as long as you assure the customer that his or her personal data will not be mishandled, they feel comfortable," Burr said.

Other survey findings:

  • Women were more likely than men (56% vs. 49%) to have apprehensions about privacy/security issues related to shopping on the Internet.
  • Married people were more likely than singles (57% vs. 47%) to have concerns about online shopping.
  • Respondents in the 35-44 age group (64%) were more inclined to have privacy and security concerns, while those in the 65+ age group (23%) had the least--probably because they're less likely to shop online.
  • The higher degree of education, the more concern about online security: 42 percent for those with high school or less, 59 percent for college, and 65 percent for post-graduates.
  • The greater the individual's household income, the more he or she is concerned with security issues, ranging from under $15,000 (34%) to $50,000+ (63%).
  • Regional differences indicated those in the Northeast (56%) were more disquieted by security issues that those in the West (47%). Midwest ranked at 54 percent and South ranked 54 percent.

The NetZero survey was conducted January 5-6, 1999, by Market Facts Inc. TeleNation. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. NetZero offers free Internet access and e-mail while offering highly targeted advertising.