An Investigation into Irish Internet Users' Perception regarding the Data Privacy Policies of Virtual Firms operating in Ireland

Research output: Types of ThesisMaster's Thesis

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The growth of the Internet and database technologies have raised questions about the analysis storage and use of user’s inputted data. The growth in the use of virtual companies (i.e. a company that does not have a physical footprint and exists mainly online) have introduced new elements of trust and risk. The purpose of this research study was to understand Irish consumer attitude toward on-line personal information requests, comfort and willingness to disclose information, the attitude toward the storage of the information, and to establish consumer knowledge as to their rights in relation to information storage and distribution. The research was undertaken using a positivist, quantitative approach, using a questionnaire conducted face-to-face, in selected cities and towns of various sizes around the south-east of Ireland to ensure a varied demographic. The findings revealed that Internet usage is high, with over 80% of the respondents using the Internet daily or weekly. 67.7% of the respondents who used the Internet had shopped on the virtual sites featured in the study, Amazon, Ryanair and Ticketmaster. The length of time respondents had been using the Internet, and the frequency of their use had an impact on their comfort levels when asked for information not related to their transaction. The longer and more frequently the respondent had used the Internet, the less comfortable they were in disclosing this information. Comfort levels in disclosing information were also impacted by the type of information requested, some service quality dimensions of the website, presentation elements and the virtual firms’ reputation. Privacy policies had little impact on comfort levels when disclosing personal information, just 30.6% of respondents had read a privacy policy. Respondents who had read a privacy policy indicated they were not easy to read or understand, and they did not always read one before using a website. Comfort levels and the beliefs expressed about use of information by companies suggest there is a consistent lack of consumer knowledge about the storage and use of personal information once it is disclosed.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Ó hEigeartaigh, Mícheál Dr., Supervisor
  • Kelliher, Felicity, Supervisor
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007


  • Data Protection


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