Privacy and the internet

Privacy in healthcare is very important. This is something that I have some experience with. This kind of privacy is a bit different than the kind discussed in the reading this week. This Health Care Privacy is more about preventing access to data that exists. Not allowing people who don’t need to access a specific patient, access to that patient. This relates to the reading this week in that privacy is really about what you want to show the outside world. I liked the description of the 3 types of privacy; Expressive, Informational, and Accessibility.

  • Expressive Privacy – The ability to choose what I say and do.
  • Informational Privacy – The ability to choose what information I share with others.
  • Accessibility Privacy – The ability to choose how (physically) close I get to others.

In addition to the three types of privacy described above there are also two forms of privacy; actual and perceived.

  • Actual Privacy – When people are around, my actual privacy is limited.
  • Perceived Privacy – When my family is around, my perceived privacy is high. I trust them to not divulge my personal information, to maintain my privacy.

There are a number of ways that people can protect their privacy online. Depending on the site you are using, for example eBay, you can turn yourself into a pseudonym. You can clear web history, deny cookies and other things. The image below is from a Pew Internet Privacy that was done that describes how much people understand about internet privacy.


Social Media sites also have specific settings in regards to privacy. According to Consumer Watchdog, Facebook and their ads track you even when you are not currently logged into Facebook.


After Privacy, comes trust. Once you look at the privacy settings of your web browser and or website you are looking at, you have to decide if you trust the web site you are visiting.


This image visibly describes what goes into a decision by a consumer to purchase from a specific site.  “A consumer’s intention to purchase products from Internet shopping malls is contingent on a consumer’s trust. Consumers are less likely to patronize stores that fail to create a sense of trustworthiness and an easily usable context. In the meantime, trust would also be influenced by e-commerce knowledge, perceived reputation, perceived risk, and perceived ease of use, all of which are set as independent variables in the model. Hence trust serves as a mediating variable while purchasing intention is a dependent variable.” (JISTEM, 2007)

I know that I have done research on products and found website that were offering them for less than Amazon or some other known online retailer. I do research not only on the product they are offering, but also the website before I decide to trust the retailer and purchase from their website.

What do you know about protecting your privacy on the internet, specifically the use of websites privacy policies? Does anyone read these before signing up for a new website?

Posted on November 17, 2013, in Social Media, Trust and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Good question Lisa – I never read the privacy policies! I think people get used to a lack of privacy in some arenas and just choose to deal with it by doing nothing. They look at it as the new normal. I know I am guilty of this.

  2. I agree while privacy in health care is different, it’s also important. I feel the same way working for Verizon Wireless. I don’t have any access to people’s accounts or call records, etc. I don’t need it for what I do, so why should I have it? It makes sense and helps keep data private.

    I find the image you posted about how Facebook tracks you even when you’re not logged in quite interesting. It’s amazing the tracking tools that companies can place on your computer and you have no idea you’re doing it. But I’m sure we all said it was ok when we signed up for our account and blindly accepted the terms and conditions.

    I know I don’t pay much attention to the privacy policies before joining a site. But I also assume everything on that site is public and don’t post anything I wouldn’t want shared.

  3. I will admit that I probably don’t do as good a job as I should to protect my privacy on the Internet. I am going to work on this, though!

    Your post reminded me of an e-newsletter I got the other day that discusses healthcare marketing and news. There was a link to a white paper about how people feel like they are asked for too much personal information to get access to certain health-related websites. In order to access the white paper, though, you had to provide a bunch of personal information!

  4. We recently were required to attend an ID theft training session at my college. It had much to do with privacy and how many of us do not take the necessary precautions to maintain our own privacy, and it also focused on the privacy issues for students and those who work with student records and information. In light of the shift from paper to digital records, much was discussed on how to maintain security and privacy.

    Your post had me thinking both about how I keep my information private and how to maintain the privacy of my students.

  5. I know I’ve never done anything particularly proactive to protect my privacy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read a company’s privacy policy, so after I read your post, I went to the Gap website (actually Banana Republic) where I recently bought my daughter a sweater, and I was surprised to see how extensive the privacy policy was, especially the explanation of how they use cookies and tracking technology, such as pixel tags.You can set your broswer to turn the cookies off or not accept cookies, but then you can’t access your account info or make purchases. So, if this is the state of the world, then you can perhaps (perhaps!) avoid being tracked but really become non-functional. I’ll have to think about this some more…

  6. Excellent questions here. I think you contacted me about your final paper topic and the use of social media within your company but right now I can’t remember if your company is a health care one. If it is, you should definitely bring in these points about privacy.

    Also, did you know last Thursday was World Usability Day and that this year’s theme was healthcare? See for more info. It looks like 2007’s events were related to healthcare as well, so maybe check back at for additional videos if this is a topic that interests you.

  7. You make some good points about privacy. I am remarkably paranoid about the trustworthiness of sites, but even in my great paranoia, I use plenty of sites that invade my privacy, but I go with my perception that things are private over the actuality that Facebook, or whatever site it is, is not as private as it may seem.

  8. Working for a health insurance company, I have potential access to a lot of information. HIPAA is something that is ingrained in us, and something we are reminded of at least once per year. My wife is an RN, so she experiences the same thing. It always makes me chuckle when I have handed a HIPAA form to sign (for example, at the eye doctor) and the individual launches into their explanation of what it means.

    I’ve definately left an online site that had a great price on an item because it looked sketchy. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the risk to try to save a few bucks. The internet has changed a lot in the last 10 years, and online retailors have to appear more professional and reliable, since there is always another site that someone can go to and get what they need.

  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on online privacy! Sometimes I worried about my privacy online. After hearing about the ‘sextortion’ of Miss Teen USA, I put a post-it note over my web cam. Stories like that really make me nervous!

    You bring up a good point. I think all of us need to evaluate our digital profiles. Not only are we risking our information, but also our safety.

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