News Item

Ranking & voting online; privacy risks of reputation systems analysed in new report

Ranking & voting online; privacy risks of reputation systems in new Agency report.

Published on January 23, 2012

Reputation systems are a key success factor of many websites, e.g. eBay, or Amazon, ranking hotels, films, or music, enabling users and customers to vote on products. This gives consumers a better idea of the information, products and services being provided. However, by using reputation systems, citizens place themselves at additional risk. These privacy risks include:

- exposing personal data

- facilitating the targeting of advertising against themselves

- risking price discrimination

- website providers sharing the reputation data they provide

- the level of trust placed in the reputation score exceeding the actual level of trust-worthiness

- vendors and service providers monitoring reputation systems for poor reputation scores to identity and rectify potential customer issues

- the linking of user identities across multiple sites through the use of advanced analytics.

This study revealed a significant difference between the real-life implementation of reputation systems and current academic research. The reputation systems being deployed are primarily concerned with facilitating and promoting business transactions. The academic research into privacy and trust solutions for reputation systems does not appear to be considered, in order to embed the research in operational systems.

Five core area of risks for users

This study also identifies conclusions in five core areas regarding reputation systems’ risks for users of reputation systems and the trustworthiness of the resulting scores, customer communications regarding such systems, and the lack of clarity over the governing legislation;

  • Mitigating security risks posed by reputation systems.
  • Trustworthiness of reputation scores
  • Consumer communications
  • Applicable legislation
  • Linkability

For full report

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