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Consumers’ Understanding of Privacy Rules in the Marketplace



Studies suggest the general structure of Web sites leads consumers away from demanding that online merchants take certain approaches to privacy as a condition for dealing with them. This article presents findings from a nationally representative survey showing that the absence of such a privacy marketplace can also be attributed to the public’s incomplete knowledge of privacy regulations. Most respondents correctly understood that regulations regarding merchants’ sharing information are domain specific. The respondents were only sporadically correct, however, regarding which domains have which rules. The study raises questions about the best approaches to education in the absence of a coherent national policy of privacy regulation.