Newsletter: Consumers would be more forgiving of data breaches if companies just came clean

Welcome to the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section. I’m consumer columnist David Lazarus, here today with a look at data breaches.

It won’t be news to anyone that our privacy has never been at greater risk. Hardly a day goes by without word of yet another data breach or security lapse.

Last week, Facebook was caught yet again with its hand in the cookie jar. Hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ phone numbers were found in an unprotected online database, accessible to anyone who knew where to look. A number of state attorneys general announced an investigation into the company’s actions.

Does that make you angry? A recent report from the credit reporting agency Experian found that consumers would be more likely to forgive privacy incidents if they’re notified in a timely fashion.

Ninety percent of survey respondents said they’d be more forgiving of a company or organization that responded to a breach in a prompt and transparent manner. Conversely, two-thirds of respondents said they’d stop doing business with a company that dithered in the face of a security lapse.

This is understandable. Consumers are justifiably wary of businesses that insist they take people’s privacy seriously and then are shocked, shocked to discover that their systems were vulnerable to hackers.

A California law set to take effect in January will allow state residents to find out what kinds of information a business has collected. The Consumer Privacy Act also permits customers to request that a company delete any personal information it holds.

Source: LA Times

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