January 29th, 2013 by Kelly Liyakasa

If you’ve even remotely followed the names Facebook, Google, and Instagram, you know that “privacy” is something these companies go to war – and court – over time and time again. But “privacy” means alot of different things to alot of different people, and fully accounting for it when it comes to your customers can be a tricky thing.

But, some apparently do it better than others in the eyes of the consumer. According to the Most Trusted Companies for Privacy Study released the Ponemon Institute, American Express, Hewlett Packard, Amazon, IBM, the US Postal Service, Procter & Gamble, USAA, Nationwide, eBay, and Intuit are among the most “trustworthy” companies and organizations when it comes to protecting and respecting consumer data and information.

"Privacy please" Sign on Hotel DoorAmong the most “trustworthy” of industry segments were health care, consumer products, technology and software, and banking. The least trustworthy? The Internet and social media made the top of the list, along with nonprofits and “toys.” Yes, toys. Approximately 59 percent of the 100,000 adult consumers surveyed believe that social media, smart mobile devices, and geo-tracking technologies “undermine” or “diminish” their overall privacy.

But it’s not all bad news. According to Ponemon Institute, consumer’s perception of privacy can be an amalgamation of factors, such as personal experience with a brand’s Website, or when a customer finds “exceptional value” with a company’s product or service.  “Further, what a company does in the area of privacy and data protection can be invisible to the consumer until he or she experiences a problem and seeks redress or has a question about the organization’s privacy and data protection practices that needs to be answered,” the report states.

So what do consumers see as the most important privacy features a company should afford them? A staggering 73 percent said substantial security protections while 59 percent said absolutely “no data sharing without consent.” But despite what a company does in the privacy department, about 63 percent of consumer surveyed said they have knowingly shared personal identification information like Social Security number, debit or credit card numbers, or their date of birth with an organization they did not know or trust. And, as we’ve all heard before, customers are more likely to share personal information if you are providing a relevant, and personalized experience for them.

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