E-commerce in the UK: Survey shows widespread disregard for Data Protection issues, a lack of basic testing and poor accessibility

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In the run up to Christmas, UK web consumers are not only parting with their cash, in many cases they are parting with their privacy too, in clear breach of web-site privacy policies and the Data Protection Act. Many consumers are also frustrated by bugs, errors and lack of usability. This report lists the major corporate offenders found so far.

A survey by Craig Cockburn ('Coburn') for SiliconGlen.com Ltd has shown that UK consumers using major corporate sites are not only parting with their cash, in many cases they are parting with their privacy too, in clear breach of web-site privacy policies and the Data Protection Act.

To add to that, many corporate websites fail to perform an adequate level of testing, leaving the typical consumer not only annoyed by the invasion of privacy, but also astonished by the bugs, errors and lack of usability.

For disabled people, the problems are even worse, with few major sites complying with Disability Access Legislation. Even a free cross browser test or site validation would be been a start yet even this most basic of tests is left to frustrated customers to perform instead.

These are the result of a survey of leading corporate websites by Scottish Internet company SiliconGlen.com Ltd for the "Pants Website Award" featuring the worst of corporate websites.

As the result of research for the "Pants website award" by SiliconGlen.com Ltd, including both in house and from suggestions by the public, the picture for many high profile websites is bleak. Investment in these sites is failing to pay off due to easily avoided problems. The time and effort required to properly test can be as little as 1/25 of the total development cost to reach about 10% more customers.

In terms of Data Privacy, many sites choose to ignore the 3rd Principle of the Data Protection Act which requires that data collected is "not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed". Yet, some sites require a date of birth to buy babies toys or tell the site owner about a technical fault. Many sites overuse mandatory fields, and often require through the use of courtesy titles for a customer to reveal their gender. Such information must also be optional and left to customer preference as gender details are not a requirement to fulfil the order.

US Federal Law prohibits titles from being mandatory for discrimination reasons based on gender. The same gender collection in this country is excessive to the order, especially when many people choose not to use one and when challenged the sites state that they require a title, not for order fulfilment but for market research.

Full details and sites listed here:

http://www.siliconglen.com/usability/pants.html
http://www.siliconglen.com/usability/browsers.html
http://www.siliconglen.com/usability/courtesytitles.html
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About SiliconGlen.com Ltd.

SiliconGlen.com Ltd is based in Scotland and specialises in the promotion of Scotland on the Internet across a wide range of subjects including website design, testing and usability. The site has been used as a reference for many news companies seeking information on Silicon Glen as well as researchers for other television programmes.

http://www.siliconglen.com

About Craig Cockburn

Craig Cockburn is the founder of SiliconGlen.com Ltd and has over 20 years experience designing software. A graduate of Edinburgh and Napier universities, with a masters thesis specialising in usability, he works in the field of system and user acceptance testing for large corporate websites.

Craig wrote the UK's first guide to getting on the Internet in 1992, the first online guide to Scotland in 1994 and has had E-mail access since 1983. In 1994 he was listed in "Email addresses of the rich and famous", the top 1000 famous people online.

Email: craig@siliconglen.com

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Craig Cockburn (pronounced 'Coburn')
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