Consumer Study Finds Ebay Most Trusted Company for Privacy

Internet Companies, Banks and Healthcare Organizations Cited as Most Trustworthy Industry Sectors

San Francisco, CA – June 10, 2004 - A consumer-focused study conducted by the Ponemon Institute and the nonprofit TRUSTe reveals that eBay is the most trusted company for privacy in America. Other companies listed in the top ten include (in descending order) American Express, Proctor & Gamble (all brands), Amazon, Hewlett Packard, U.S. Postal Service, IBM, Earthlink, Citibank and Dell. The study shows that Internet companies, banks and healthcare organizations have earned the greatest trust among consumers while companies in the hospitality and retail food store industries are not considered as trustworthy.

The study, which polled more than 6,300 consumers, also reveals the three top criteria that consumers apply to gauge a company's trustworthiness. The most important factor is the company's overall reputation for product and service quality, followed by a company's limits on collection of its customers' personal information. The third criterion is the use of advertisements and solicitations that respect consumer privacy.

"Privacy is a key component of trust, which is crucial to the success of the eBay marketplace," said Scott Shipman, privacy counsel, eBay Inc.  "We work closely with the eBay community to maintain the transparency of the marketplace while protecting the privacy of our users."

"We are thrilled with the results of this independent survey, because obtaining and sustaining consumer trust is the basis for our Global Privacy Program," said Sandra Hughes, global privacy executive, Proctor & Gamble. "This trust enables P&G to learn from consumers and therefore provide superior products and services to improve their everyday lives."

"Protecting the privacy of our customers and employees is vital to developing and maintaining trusted relationships, and it is fundamental to achieving HP's global citizenship goals," said Barbara Lawler, chief privacy officer, Hewlett Packard. "The findings of the Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe survey support our belief that privacy protection is paramount to supporting our brand and embracing our responsibility as an exemplary corporate citizen."

The study indicates that the percentage of consumers impacted by unwanted e-mail activity has nearly doubled in the past year to 58 percent. Consumers were also asked what worries them most if their personal information were leaked to individuals or organizations that were not authorized to receive the information. Seventy-six percent said that identity theft was their biggest concern followed by spam concerns (58 percent) and fears related to loss of civil liberties (48 percent.)

"This is the first study to link a consumer's perceptions of a company's ability to protect his/her personal information to specific companies and brands," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, founder and chairman of Ponemon Institute. "Because consumers are becoming more concerned about identity theft and the safeguarding of their personal assets, a low privacy trust score could provide companies with an early warning signal that their reputation and brand loyalty might be in jeopardy."

"This survey shows that companies that make privacy a core value are rewarded by consumers with brand loyalty," said Fran Maier, president and executive director of TRUSTe. "Effective companies don't consider privacy a compliance activity but rather a brand differentiation. We are pleased that TRUSTe seal-holders are well represented."

The survey portion of the study consisted of a Web-based and standard mail questionnaire that asked respondents to name up to five companies in 24 different industry sectors that they believed to be the most trusted for honoring their privacy commitments, such as the protection and safeguarding of sensitive personal information. Specific company names were not provided in the survey instrument to allow each consumer participant to make their judgements without constraints.

Complete survey results and additional information on the methodology applied to the study are available upon request.

 

About TRUSTe
TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across their customer, employee, and vendor channels. Our SaaS-based DPM Platform gives users control over all phases of data privacy management from conducting assessments and implementing compliance controls to managing ongoing monitoring. Our DPM Services, including assessments and certifications, are delivered by an expert team of privacy professionals. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on TRUSTe to minimize compliance risk and protect their brand.

About Ponemon Institute
Ponemon Institute is a "think tank" dedicated to advancing responsible information management practices in business and government. To achieve this objective, Ponemon Institute conducts independent research to promote best practices, to educate leaders from the private and public sectors and to verify the privacy and data protection practices of organizations. The Institute is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. For more information, visit www.ponemon.org or contact (520) 290-3400.