Information Privacy in the Marketspace: Implications for the Commercial Uses of Anonymity on the Web

  • Hoffman D
  • Novak T
  • Peralta M
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Argues that the primary barrier to the successful
commercial development of the World Wide Web is the current
lack of consumer trust in this new commercial medium. This
lack of trust is engendered primarily by the industry's
documented failure to respond satisfactorily to mounting
consumer concerns over information privacy in electronic,
networked environments. How such concerns are affecting the
growth and development of consumer-oriented commercial
activity on the Web is examined, along with implications
for potential industry response. In the short run, the
commercial development of the Web depends on giving
consumers the opportunity to be anonymous when engaging in
information exchanges and online transactions. Ultimately,
however, commercial Web providers must come to realize that
the Internet dramatically shifts the balance of power
between a business and its customers, and therefore,
radical new business strategies will be required for
long-term success. Because the Web offers unprecedented
opportunities for interacting with customers, strategies
that take advantage of the medium's unique features are
likely to reap important rewards in customer satisfaction,
loyalty, and retention. Therefore, in the long run, the
most effective way for commercial Web providers to develop
profitable exchange relationships with online customers is
to gain consumer trust by allowing the balance of power to
shift toward more cooperative interactions.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Commercialization of the internet
  • Computer-Mediated environments
  • Consumer privacy
  • Online anonymity
  • Online retailing

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  • Donna L. Hoffman

  • Thomas P. Novak

  • Marcos A. Peralta

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