Tit for Tat in Cyberspace: Consumer and Website Responses to Anarchy in the Market for Personal Information

June 16, 2012

Although the Internet has opened up new opportunities for both businesses and consumers, it also has made possible a tremendous expansion in the market for personal information that many regard as unfortunate and threatening. The computerization of information has made collecting, storing, processing, and transmitting information vastly cheaper. Since lower prices tend to provide greater access, it should be no surprise that several recent polls have confirmed that most people are very concerned that the Internet has facilitated a significant loss of privacy. Indeed, Internet privacy is a large and burgeoning topic that continues to change with each technological advance.
This paper focuses on voluntary transfers of personal information by consumers to websites and the measures that websites can take to alleviate consumer concerns about privacy. Admittedly, voluntary transfers are only part of the larger issue of Internet privacy, but consumer and website responses to questions about voluntary transfers reveal a great deal about an uncertain legal landscape for the protection of privacy.