NewsFrom: Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro gps
Date: 16 Sep 2000 13:09:51
Subject: Privacy News: Web Bugs, Iprivacy
"Privacy Watchdog Targets 'Web Bugs'" E-Commerce Times (09/14/00); Saliba, Clare A new set of regulatory guidelines from the Privacy Foundation demands that Internet advertising companies and Web sites notify users to the placement of Web bugs. Web bugs, or clear GIFs, are images embedded within HTML-enhanced commercial emails or Web page software code that help transmit data to a remote computer when the page is viewed. These stealth tools are used to build online profiles and can also count the number of times a specific page has been accessed. "They are designed to monitor who is reading, yet most people have no idea they exist," said Stephen Keating, executive director of the Privacy Foundation. The foundation sent its proposal to 40 corporate and federal agencies for review on Sept. 8, and later presented it at the Global Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13. Under the guidelines, sites using Web bugs would have to employ icons to indicate their presence, as well as icons that identify the company that is harvesting data. Each icon would have a clickable link to a page that explains what data is being collected, how the data is to be used, what parties are receiving the data, and any additional information to be combined with the data. Visitors must also be allowed to opt out of Web bug data collection, according to the guidelines. Furthermore, the guidelines prohibit the use of Web bugs to gather data related to children, sex, medical issues, and financial or employment matters. Incidents involving Web bugs have drawn controversy and criticism in recent months. For instance, Toyrus.com was accused of employing Web bugs to compile personal profiles of its online shoppers for an outside marketing agency. http://www.ecommercetimes.com/news/articles2000/000914-2.shtml For information regarding ACM's activities on behalf of privacy matters, visit http://www.acm.org/usacm/privacy "Privacy Spurs Innovation" InfoWorld (09/11/00) Vol. 22, No. 37, P. 1; Jones, Jennifer New companies and wireless vendors are taking advantage of controversial Internet security issues by offering users privacy-enhancement services. On September 11, New York-based iPrivacy will provide customers with a privacy shield for online transactions. IPrivacy provides credit card companies and third parties an infrastructure to protect users from disclosing personal data and clickstream information, which is often used to build consumer profiles. Customers would receive software from credit card companies that allows Web access on a site server without revealing personal data. By acting as a proxy through client-side software, the credit card company would fill out the necessary documents for ordering, buying, and delivering products. A company could also employ the iPrivacy service to identify sexual harassment and other ethics violations by using a third party such as a law firm to host the software. IPrivacy President Ruvan Cohen does not see the service as a solution to an online ethics problem, but rather as a big marketing opportunity. Tacit Information Systems is offering technology that can scan employees' outbound email to build individual personnel profiles, but the profiles remain encrypted until the employee approves their publication. Qode is offering users its own security measure for online shopping: a bar-code scanner plugged into a keyboard jack that allows customers to look for desired items on the Web. SkyGo, a wireless marketing company, will start testing a new mobile opt-in system in late September. The company will have strict policies regarding the use of a customer's data in target advertising, says SkyGo CEO Daren Tsui. Later this month Employment Law Learning Technologies will offer online tutorials that provide corporations with the basic principles of online privacy among other things.
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