Ponemon Survey Names Twenty Most Trusted Companies for Privacy

February 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm
In Tumultuous Year for Consumer Privacy, American Express Retains Top Ranking in Annual Ponemon Consumer Trust Study
Google Returns to List of Twenty Most Trusted, Facebook Drops Off
Traverse City, Mich. February 26, 2010 – In a year marred by highly publicized privacy mistakes and missteps, American Express quietly retained its position atop the list of brands most trusted by U.S. consumers, according to the Ponemon Institute’s annual Most Trusted Companies for Privacy Study. It is the fifth consecutive year that American Express earned the Most Trusted for Privacy distinction. IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, and E-Bay rounded out the five top-rated companies.
The rankings were derived from responses given by 6,627 U.S. adults that included more than 38,000 individual company ratings, 229 of which were mentioned at least twenty times. Among the brands that made the top twenty were four not listed in the previous study, including Google, Weight Watchers, Walmart, and AT&T. Of the companies listed last year, Facebook, AOL, and eLoan did not make the 2010 list.
“2009 was a tumultuous year for privacy, as illustrated by Facebook’s drop out of the top twenty in a year when they found themselves at the center of a very public debate over the evolution of their privacy policies and settings,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “Facebook draws a great deal of attention because they have chosen to innovate on the issue of privacy in a highly visible manner, and while they were rewarded for their efforts last year, consumers were less kind to them this year, showing just how important privacy protection is as a brand asset.”
The top twenty companies were:


2010 Most Trusted Companies for Privacy
1 American Express (1)
12 Apple (8)
2 IBM (3)
12 Disney (16)
3 Johnson & Johnson (5)
13 Google (not in top 20)
4 Hewlett Packard (6)
14 Verizon (17)
5 E-bay (2)
15 US Bank (19)
6 U.S. Postal Service (6)
15 Charles Schwab (10)
7 Procter & Gamble (7)
16 Weight Watchers (not in top 20)
8 Amazon (4)
17 Yahoo! (14)
8 Nationwide (9)
18 FedEx (18)
9 USAA (11)
19 Walmart (not in top 20)
10 WebMD (13)
20 AT&T (not in top 20)
11 Intuit (12)
20 Dell (20)
“We are honored to be recognized as a most trusted company in privacy,” said Dorothy Attwood, AT&T senior vice president for public policy and chief privacy officer. “At AT&T, privacy commitments are fundamental to the way we do business every day, and we use powerful security safeguards to protect customer data.”
Zoe Strickland, vice president and chief privacy officer for Walmart, said, “Walmart is pleased to be recognized by consumers as the most trusted retailer in the survey. We know and value our relationship with our customers, and we appreciate their trust in Walmart.”
Among the survey’s significant findings:
·         Consumers feel they are losing control of personal information. Only 41 percent of consumers feel they have control over their personal information, down from 45 last year and an overall drop from 56 percent in 2006.
·         Identity theft is top of mind. Fifty-nine percent of consumers said fear of identity theft was a major factor in brand trust diminishment, and 50 percent said notice of a data breach was a factor. Other significant threats to brand trust were abuse of civil liberties and annoying “background chatter” in public venues.
·         Privacy “features” contributed to brand trust. Substantial security protections were identified as a trust asset by 60 percent of consumers, while 53 percent said accurate data collection and use was a trust asset. Other significant positive factors were limits on the collection of personal information and online anonymity.
About Ponemon Institute
The Ponemon Institute© is dedicated to advancing responsible information and privacy management practices in business and government. To achieve this objective, the Institute conducts independent research, educates leaders from the private and public sectors and verifies the privacy and data protection practices of organizations in a variety of industries.