December 15, 2008 08:30 ET

Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe Announce Results of Annual Most Trusted Companies for Privacy Survey

American Express, eBay, IBM Are Top Three; Facebook Breaks Into Top 20

TRAVERSE CITY, MI and SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - December 15, 2008) - Privacy and information security research company Ponemon Institute along with TRUSTe, the most widely recognized Internet privacy trustmark, today announced the results of the Ponemon Institute's fifth annual survey of Most Trusted Companies for Privacy. The study asked 6,486 adult-aged U.S. consumers which companies they thought were most trustworthy and which did the best job safeguarding personal information. A total of 706 companies were named by consumers; 211 made the final list of most trusted companies.

American Express ranked as the Most Trusted Company for 2008 for Privacy, retaining its place from last year despite the current financial climate. eBay earned a ranking as the second most trusted company, while IBM, Amazon, and Johnson & Johnson rounded out the top five.

While the financial services sector slipped amid industry-wide woes, the technology sector showed marked improvement as eBay, Apple, Yahoo!, Microsoft, and HP all bettered previous rankings. Also of note, Facebook moved into the top 20 for the first time, signifying an increased trust in social networking as a mainstream communications tool.

2008 Ranking                               2008 Ranking
-----------------------------------------  --------------------------------
1  American Express (remained number one)  12  Intuit (+7)
2  eBay (+6)                               13  WebMD (-1)
3  IBM (no change)                         14  Yahoo! (new to the top 20)
4  Amazon (+1)                             15  Facebook (new to the top 20)
5  Johnson & Johnson (+1)                  16  Disney (-1)
6  Hewlett Packard (+10)                   16  AOL (-12)
6  U.S. Postal Service (+1)                17  Verizon (new to the top 20)
7  Procter & Gamble (+2)                   18  FedEx (new to the top 20)
8  Apple (new to the top 20)               19  US Bank (-2)
9  Nationwide (remained the same)          20  Dell (-7)
10 Charles Schwab (-8)                     20  eLoan (-9)
11 USAA (+4)

"That we see many of the same names ranked among the top 20 companies year after year, strongly suggests that consumer perceptions are not superficial, but are in fact the result of diligent and successful execution of thoughtful privacy strategies," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. "Consumers want to do business with brands they believe they can trust, and we believe our study is a strong indication of which brands have best earned that trust."

The survey notes a significant gap developing between the importance privacy holds with consumers and the sense of control they feel they have over their personal information, specifically:

--  Importance of privacy continues to rise. Seventy-three percent of
    consumers said the protection of their personal privacy is "important" or
    "very important," up from 69 percent in 2006.
--  Consumers feel they are losing control of personal information. Only
    45 percent of consumers feel they have control over their personal
    information, down from 56 percent in 2006.
--  Identity theft is top of mind. Sixty-two percent of consumers believe
    that identity theft most saliently affects their perceptions about a
    company's privacy, while 53 percent named data breach notification and 42
    percent cited annoying background chatter in a public venue. Only 18
    percent of consumers cited social networking abuse as a factor.

"As shoppers continue to turn to eBay for great deals in a tough economy, they expect that their personal information will be safe online," said Scott Shipman, Global Privacy Leader for eBay Inc. "We take our customers' privacy very seriously and strive to be as transparent as possible to gain and maintain their trust. eBay's Privacy and Information Security teams do an outstanding job of identifying privacy and security issues and heading them off at the pass. The privacy ranking is a good touch point of our progress and it is an honor to share the spotlight with so many accomplished brands."

"We are honored to have IBM recognized again as the top business-to-business company in the Ponemon/TRUSTe Most Trusted Company survey," said Harriet Pearson, vice president & chief privacy officer at IBM. "As the physical and digital worlds converge, and sensitive information moves from desktop to cloud -- from standalone data centers to intelligent, shared infrastructures -- IBMers around the globe are dedicated to delivering on our long-standing commitment to providing clients with trusted and secure technologies, services and solutions."

"Our audience comes back to Yahoo! because they value the services we provide, but just as importantly, because they trust our brand. That's why we're so proud of our longtime commitment to privacy leadership including transparent policies, choices for users and consumer education across the network," stated Ann Toth, Yahoo! vice president of policy and head of privacy.

TRUSTe and Ponemon Institute will host a Webinar to discuss the Most Trusted Companies for Privacy award on January 21, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. PST. Larry Ponemon will present. To RSVP for the Webinar, please email with the subject "Most Trusted Company for Privacy Award."

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.

About TRUSTe

TRUSTe helps millions of consumers identify trustworthy online organizations through its Web Privacy Seal, Email Privacy Seal and Trusted Download Programs. TRUSTe ensures online privacy and protects confidential user information on more than 2,400 Web sites and many of the most highly trafficked, including Yahoo!, AOL, Microsoft, Disney, eBay, Intuit, and Facebook. Independent research shows that when a TRUSTe web seal is present, visitors and customers are more likely to share personal information, register at higher rates and spend more money. To learn more about internet privacy visit

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