Reading the least read? Indicators of users' intention to consult privacy statements on municipal websites

Ardion Beldad, Menno de Jong, Michaël Steehouder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

12 Citations (Scopus)


Though seldom read or consulted, privacy statements are often the only means for users to know how their personal data will be used by collecting organizations. While the length and the legalistic nature of most privacy statements are often blamed for people's reluctance to consult such documents, studies on the factors that influence users' intention to read privacy statements are still non-existent. For this survey, respondents from the Netherlands were presented with the situation of registering a child for a basic school through their municipalities' websites. The scenario was selected since it was assumed that it would be one that would require a significant amount of personal data from registrants, and not just the usual contact information. Results of the conducted online survey reveal that although not all users consult a privacy statement on a municipal website before they would disclose personal data, the availability and the ease of finding them on a municipal website strongly contribute to users' belief that a municipality can be trusted with their personal data whenever they are shared for a particular online transaction. This study also shows that users' perceptions of the risks involved in the online disclosure of their personal data influenced their intention to read online privacy statements on municipal websites. Older users were also more likely to consult privacy statements than their younger counterparts, while those with lower levels of education and internet experience expressed a higher tendency to read such online documents than those with higher levels of education and internet experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-244
JournalGovernment information quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Online privacy statements
  • Online privacy
  • Electronic government
  • e-Government
  • Confidentiality of information
  • Online trust
  • Risk perceptions in data disclosures


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