Shoppers have little idea about the rules governing online commerce and what could happen to the data they give websites, according to a new study.
The survey, 'Open to Exploitation', was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and found that more than two thirds of customers thought that price comparison websites had to show the lowest prices available and 64 per cent didn't know that online sites charge different people different prices based on their customer profile.
"This lack of knowledge signals that the great majority of adults who use the Internet are unprepared to deal with two hot trends that are rapidly becoming facts of life in stores," said Professor Joseph Turow from the university's Annenberg School for Communication.
"One trend, which marketers call behavioural targeting, involves buying or collecting information about a customer?s activities in order to know how best to sell to him or her. The second development is price discrimination - when a seller charges different prices to different customers based on data the seller holds on them."
Despite this, 81 per cent of the 1,500 people surveyed disagreed with the statement "what companies know about me won't hurt me" and 79 per cent admitted to being nervous about what data websites held on them.
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