The Viability of Removing Personal Information from Online White Page Directories: Are Consumer Perceptions Aligned with Reality?
Version of Record online: 30 MAY 2012
Copyright 2012 by The American Council on Consumer Interests
Journal of Consumer Affairs
Special Issue: Special Issue on Product Literacy. Special Issue Editors: Steven W. Kopp and Anastasia E. Thyroff
Volume 46, Issue 2, pages 345–356, Summer 2012
How to Cite
LABRECQUE, L. I., MILNE, G. R., PELTIER, J. W. and PHELPS, J. E. (2012), The Viability of Removing Personal Information from Online White Page Directories: Are Consumer Perceptions Aligned with Reality?. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 46: 345–356. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6606.2012.01227.x
- Issue online: 2 JUL 2012
- Version of Record online: 30 MAY 2012
This research undertakes two related studies to investigate the difficulties faced and costs incurred by consumers in order to remove information about themselves from online white page directories. These directories contain an aggregate of personal information and create threats to consumers by allotting easy access. A survey study examines consumer awareness of these online directories and expectations of opt-out procedures. A field study tracks attempts at actual information removal for twenty volunteers to provide a real-world assessment of the effectiveness of current opt-out mechanisms. The results reveal a dramatic misalignment between consumer expectations and the reality of current opt-out practices. The results highlight the costs and difficulties associated with opt-outs and bring the validity of these mechanisms into question.