Media blamed for consumer online fears

The dangers of buying online have been exaggerated, says a new report.

The government and the media are widely blamed for feeding consumer fears over privacy online and hobbling e-commerce, according to a report from research firm Jupiter Communications.

According to the report, 64 percent of online customers do not trust Web sites with their credit card details. The report identifies media and government obsession with privacy issues and blames them for confusing the public who have difficulty, says the report, separating security from privacy concerns.

Intense media coverage of online privacy and government focus on the issue have added to consumer confusion, the report finds. Online customers identify security of credit card information, which is their primary concern, as a privacy issue.

Secretary general of ISPA (Internet Service Providers Association) Nicholas Lansman agrees with the report. "There has been so much coverage on encryption and the government has focused on security issues. It certainly hasn't helped," he said. At the same time Lansman thinks consumers need to take some of the blame. "Consumers are happy to go to a cinema or restaurant and give out credit card details to strangers. There is a lack of consistency in how consumers expect to be treated," he said.

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