Title

Consumers' perception of control over online information disclosure. an electronic focus group study

Abstract

This study focuses on consumers’ perception of control over personal information disclosure on the Internet. Specifically, we examine how consumers perceive controlling their personal data that online companies collect for marketing and customer relationship management purposes. We aim to answer this research problem by clarifying 1) how do consumers express the perception of control over their personal information, and 2) how do consumers perceive controlling their personal information disclosure. Our empirical data is based on four computer-mediated focus group interviews. Our findings show that the perception of control is combined with all stages of personal data utilization: collection, storage and usage. Thus, consumers keep these stages in mind when thinking about their attitudes towards the collection and offering of their personal information. The interviewees also spontaneously mentioned various means with which they control personal data. Perceived trust towards companies, own initiative and permission-based marketing were also combined to the control speech. In summary, the interviewees mostly perceived that they were not controlling their personal data on the Internet. Only when they were talking about control methods of the information disclosure stage, they expressed the perception of control.

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