Various studies show that the display of a privacy statement on an organization's website can be a potent, but simple way of acquiring clients' and users' trust, which results in the completion of transactions with the organization through its website. Empirical studies that analyze the contents of privacy statements on commercial websites are profuse, while privacy statements posted on the websites of non-commercial organizations have been largely ignored by researchers. In this study, the contents of privacy statements on Dutch municipal websites are analyzed. Using the important provisions of the Wet Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (WBP) or the Dutch Personal Data Protection Act, the study also looked into the conformity of the contents of privacy statements with the existing law on privacy protection in the Netherlands. We also looked into the availability and findability of privacy statements on Dutch municipal websites. Three important findings resulted from this study: first, not all municipal websites bother to post privacy statements on their websites; second, most municipalities do not ensure that their online privacy statements are findable; and third, privacy statements on Dutch municipal websites emphasize diverging assurances and promises—with some privacy policies containing all the important provisions of the WBP, and others offering only general, and sometimes rather vague, guarantees.
- Privacy law
- Municipal websites
- Online privacy
- Electronic government
- Online trust
- Confidentiality of information
- Wet Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (Dutch Personal Data Protection Act)