Web Privacy Report

Enonymous.com has released what they call the most comprehensive report ever done on web privacy standards. While more sites than ever are posting privacy policies and a large number ask for consumer permission regarding data usage, other sites still leave the door open to share user data without consent or are silent on their practices.
Only 3.5 percent commit to never share personally-identifiable information with third parties, nor use such data to contact a user without permission. Prior to the release of this report, the ratings were useful primarily in evaluating individual sites using enonymous.com\'s free wallet software or at its privacyratings.org website. This aggregate study, however, offers insights about the overall climate of Internet privacy. For example, 4-star sites commit to never share personally-identifiable information with third parties, nor use such data to contact a user without permission. But only 3.5 percent -- or 1,027 of the 30,000 sites surveyed -- qualified for 4-stars. Among the busiest top 1000 sites, the percentage of 4-star sites was 8.6 percent, indicating more privacy sensitivity. Indeed, 630 of the top 1000 sites post some kind of policy, a major improvement from over the paltry two percent the industry offered two years ago.


Yet the study also indicated how much work remains to be done. The report was warmly received at the \"Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2000 \" Conference (CFP2000), where it was recently previewed. Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters Corp., commented, \"Enonymous\' survey distills megabytes of legalese from cyberspace into a practical message. A large fraction of businesses won\'t even tell you what they do with your personal information, and those that do post a policy probably don\'t have much privacy in it. Of the top 1,000 sites, 37 percent published no privacy policy, and 30 percent had a policy of allowing themselves to share or sell information about people without their consent. And over the past nine months, a period of intense public scrutiny of privacy practices, 117 of the 1,000 seemed to improve, while 150 got worse.\"

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