Surrendering Information Through the Looking Glass: Transparency, Trust, and Protection

Kristen L. Walker
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Key Takeaways

Free exchanges of information come with costs, resulting in socially transmitted data (technology STDs).

The phenomenon of surrendering to technology challenges consumers' ability to focus on details and actively protect themselves online.

Consumers are not sharing information onilne, but rather surrendering information - providing information to an infinite amount of 'parties' without clear understanding and with few conditions (protections) - this is an ethcial problem for individuals and society

Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Marketers and policymakers rely on transparency and trust to solve privacy issues in our data-rich society; this article argues that consumers are not 'sharing' information in online interac​tions, but rather 'surrendering' information.

Download Ful​l Article from the Spring 2016 issue of JPP&M

The motivation for this research was based on (1) involvement in a start-up and learning that the abundance of consumer information was quickly becoming a valuable resource; (2) watching excitement over new technology with little regard for privacy; (3) knowledge of the ease of collection, storage, and dissemination of consumer information with new technology; (4) realizing that most privacy research shows that consumers as concerned, yet are taking no real action to protect themselves (many consumers are unaware of the value of their information; and (5) the need for a macro-view of privacy issue to frame it for the informational age 


This is a conceptual paper, merging fields of marketing, public policy, and technology to provide a framework for understanding how information is surrendered by consumers. Socially transmitted data (surrendering information) is a long-term ethical problem for individuals and society, but can be mediated by marketing and public policymakers implementing authentic education and effective regulation to increase attention and reduce uncertainty. 



New technology gives consumers a lot of control and a lot to control, but they are overwhelmed and lack the time to pay attention. It is important to distinguish between sharing and surrendering information;  using the SSIM will help. The goal SSIM flow is to move individuals from faith to trust in their online information interactions and from passive to active protection behavior.


As a society, we clearly position surrendering as an undesirable scenario; for instance, the U.S. military code of conduct states "I will never surrender of my own free will." Why then are we allowing our citizens to surrender so much information online? The collection, storage, and dissemination of consumer information in the digital age are ethical issues for marketers, policy makers, and society. Marketers and organizations should use the SSIM to enhance transparency and foster trust in a user-friendly fashion with verification and education. 


​Download Full A​rticle​ from the Spring 2016 issue of JPP&M


Full Article

Kristen L. Walker (2016) Surrendering Information Through the Looking Glass: Transparency, Trust, and Protection. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing: Spring 2016, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp. 144-158.

Kristen L. Walker is Associate Professor of Marketing, Department of Marketing, Nazarian College of Business and Economics, California State University Northridge (e-mail:

Author Bio:

Kristen L. Walker
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