Privacy, Fair Information Practices and the Fortune 500: The Virtual Reality of Compliance


Management and Entrepreneurship

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2005


Corporate information privacy policies are receiving increased attention in the information privacy debate. Prior studies used Web surveys to analyze the content of online information privacy policies and to assess whether or not the policies comply with a standard known as the Fair Information Practices. One assumption of these studies is that the main role of a privacy policy is to protect the consumer by communicating a firm's information practices. This paper employs Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action to uncover the much more complex and multifaceted roles that privacy policies actually play in a social context. Overall, the study's findings offer insights into the reflective nature of information privacy policies, specifically their role in social interactions among companies, consumers and government regulators. The theoretical and managerial implications of the results are discussed and directions for future research provided.