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Internet Privacy

Internet Privacy One of the most important advances in the rapidly developing world of electronic commerce is the ability of companies to develop personalized relationships with their customers. Personalization empowers companies to better understand their customers’ wants and desires and improve customer service by tailoring offerings to the unique needs of individuals . At the same time, this has become a subject of hot controversy because the technology involves the extensive collection and use of personal data. Many, if not most, online shoppers and surfers are not aware of the extent of how much and what kind of info can be gathered about a person, even someone who is just visiting and not shopping or signing up for anything. Through the use of the cookie technology, a person’s movement through the Web can be tracked to provide information. Using cookies a website assigns each individual a unique identifier (but not the actual identity), so that the he may be recognized in subsequent visits to the site.

On each return visit, the site can call up user-specific information, which could include the consumer’s preferences or interests, as indicated by documents the consumer accessed in prior visits or items the consumer clicked on while in the site. Websites can also collect information about consumers through hidden electronic navigational software that captures information about site visits, including web pages visited and information downloaded, the types of browser used, and the referring websites’ Internet addresses. The result is that a website about gardening that Jane Doe that could sell not only her name to mail-order companies, but also the fact that she spent a lot of time one Saturday night last month reading about how to fertilize roses. More disturbing scenarios along the same lines could be imagined. However, although concern about privacy and security has long been the biggest issue with online shoppersparticularly with the sanctity of their identification-related informationa majority do not mind their behavior being watched if it allows their shopping experience to be customized.

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According to the 1999 Personalized Marketing and Privacy on the Net: What Consumers Want survey conducted by the non-profit research firm Privacy and American Business, 61 percent of the 474 Internet users surveyed said that they would be positive toward receiving banner ads tailored to their personal interests rather than receiving random ads. This represents about 56 million adult users interested in such personalization. In addition, 68 percent of the users also said that they would provide personal information in order to receive tailored banner ads, on the condition that notice and opt-out are provided . The study seems to back the e-commerce firms who are watching online behavior to provide customized shopping experiences, and not privacy advocates who say that this practice is an invasion of privacy. It is the purpose for gathering the information, it would seem, that is the key to drawing the line between acceptable personalization and invasion of privacy.

This is why it is important to many shoppers that a site have a privacy policy that explains what information is gathered and how it is being used, before they relinquish their information. However, according to the 1999 Georgetown Internet Privacy Policy Survey, 94% of the top 100 websites post privacy policies, and 66% of the overall websites post privacy policies . These figures sound reassuring but the exact definition of the privacy policies in themselves remains to be questioned. The 1998 Federal Trade Commission report on Internet privacy, Privacy Online: A Report to Congress outlined five criteria by which a commercial website can be said to have a truly comprehensive privacy policy. Known as the Fair Information Practice Principles, they are notice/awareness, choice/consent, access/participation, integrity/security, and enforcement/redress . In other words, websites should notify consumers that they’re collecting personal information and that the consumers can choose whether to provide it.

The report-the result of a three-year study of 1,400 websites targeted at consumers-also censured the e-commerce industry for not adequately protecting private information, stating that the vast majority of online businesses have yet to adopt even the most fundamental fair information practice… It also criticized the industry’s voluntary guidelines, stating that with limited exception, contain none of the enforcement mechanisms needed for an effective self-regulatory regime.4 Only 924 of the 1,400 websites surveyed was found to have privacy policies. 87 percent of these notified customers that they collect information, and 77 percent offered customers refusal rights. However, only 40 percent gave customers access to their information; 46 percent promised security; and 49 percent provided contact information. There is also the question of how much these privacy promises are enforced.

In June 1998, had transferred user information-including log-on names and passwords-to, an unrelated site. Registered users had no idea that the site had done so until they received an e-mail note that welcomed them to and contained their passwords. This incident provoked outrage from some users and embarrassed both companies. Although later apologized to its users, explaining that the data transfer was part of a community partnership between the sites and was designed to allow users easy access to’s community features, this is a glaring example of what can happen despite privacy promises. The lack of effective privacy protection is widely believed to be stunting the growth of e-commerce.

Survey after survey has shown that more people would embrace e-commerce if they had better assurances about their privacy. Big business and small businesses have to realize that trust is necessary to build long-term, profitable customer relationships. Trust fosters customer loyalty, referrals and repeat business, so commercial enterprises that make privacy protection a priority will reap the returns from their customers. Bibliography Cranor, L.F. Internet Privacy: A Public Concern, NetWorker: The Craft of Network Computing 2(3) (1998): 13-18.

Culnan, M.J. (June 1999). Georgetown Internet Privacy Policy Survey: Report to the Federal Trade Commission [On-line]. Available: [2000, March 29]. Federal Trade Commission (June 1998). Fair Information Practice Principles [23 paragraphs].

Privacy Online: A Report to Congress. [On-line]. Available: air Information Practice Principles [2000, March 27]. Locke, C. (April 2000). Personalization and Privacy: The Race Is On [22 paragraphs]. [On-line].

Available: [2000, April 24]. Perez, R.K. (June 1998). Sharing of Passwords Angers AdAge Subscribers [7 paragraphs]. Internet World. [On-line].

Available: [2000, April 24]. University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center (September 1998). APA Style: Citing Electronic.

Internet Privacy

Internet Privacy
The concern about privacy on the Internet is increasingly becoming an issue of international dispute. ?Citizens are becoming concerned that the most intimate details of their daily lives are being monitored, searched and recorded.? ( 81% of Net users are concerned about threats to their privacy while online. The greatest threat to privacy comes from the construction of e-commerce alone, and not from state agents.E-commerce is structured on the copy and trade of intimate personal information and therefore, a threat to privacy on the Internet.
The Internet?s leading advertising company, DoubleClick, Inc. compiled thorough information on the browsing routine of millions of users. They accomplished this by implementing ?cookie? files onto computer hard drives. These cookies enable Web sites and advertising networks to observe people?s on-line activities with great precision.
Cookies also include the search vocabulary entered as well as the articles one reads over, and the amount of time one spends looking at a particular article. Convinced that their actual identities were not being made public, consumers were pleased to accept this in exchange for the ease of navigating the web more efficiently. ?In November 1999 DoubleClick bought Abacus Direct, which held a database of names, addresses, and information about the offline buying habits of 90 million households compiled from the largest direct-mail catalogs and retailers in the nation.? (
Following the purchase of Abacus two months later, DoubleClick began compiling profiles that linked an individual?s actual name and address to Abacus?s complete records of their on-line and off-line purchases. This turned shopping that was once thought to be anonymous, into personally identifiable records.
The American Management Association conducted a survey of nearly a thousand large companies and found that more than half the large American firms surveyed monitored the Internet relations of their workers. Several of these companies used Orwellian computer software that was initially offered for only $99 and had the ability to screen and record every keystroke on the computer with video like precision. It is also possible for the firms to screen all incoming and outgoing e-mail for forbidden words and phrases- such as those involving racism, or the name of a boss. Suspicious messages would then be forwarded to a supervisor for review.
?Changes in the delivery of books, music and television were extending these technologies of surveillance beyond the office?? ( In 2000 created controversy when they changed their privacy policy without warning. They announced that customers were no longer allowed to obstruct the distribution of personal data.
Globally Unique Identifiers, or GUIDS make it possible to link every file, e-mail communication, and on-line chat room posting with the real-world identity of the person who created it. The unease for this issue is also growing. GUIDs are a kind of serial number that can be connected with a person?s name and e-mail address when he registers on-line for merchandise or service.

One of the most popular Internet music players, RealJukebox was recognized in November 1999 by privacy advocates when they realized that the music each user downloaded could pinpoint a user?s identity by matching it with a unique identification number. There were even various software products such as Microsoft Word 97 and PowerPoint 97, which implanted distinct identifiers into every document.
?Americans increasingly seem to agree that Congress should save them from the worst excesses of online profiling.? ( A poll conducted in March for Business Week magazine showed that 57% of the respondents said that the government should pass laws that modify how personal information could be collected and used on the Internet. The attempt to pass complete privacy legislation in the United States has been disturbed by the fact that those who will benefit from privacy are scattered while the corporate opponents of privacy are well organized. is a privacy-enhancing technology that allows individuals to browse the web and send e-mails anonymously or pseudonymously in order for people to cover electronic tracks. Genuine Privacy Enhancing Technologies limit or eliminate the collection of personally identifiable information.
It is quite cheap and fairly easy to accumulate thorough information about people because of the advances in computer technology. This can prove to be beneficial for law enforcement looking to track down criminals; prevention of fraud within banks, and consumers becoming more educated about new products and services. However, this also creates opportunity for misuse of such information.
Information sent over the Internet has the potential to pass through dozens of various computer systems on the way to its intended destination. ?Each of these systems may be managed by a different system operator (sysop), and each system may be capable of capturing and storing online communications.? ( It is possible for the online activities of Internet users to be monitored, both by their own service provider and by the system operator of any sites on the Internet that may capture them. ?There are virtually no online activities or services that guarantee an absolute right of privacy.?(
If the communication is ?readily accessible? according to federal law it is not considered illegal for anyone to view or release the information to the public. This applies to the many online activities that are open to public inspection. Public messages on the Internet may be accessed by anyone at anytime even years after the original message has been written.
The federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act makes it illegal for anyone to examine or release the contents of an electronic correspondence. This law refers to e-mail messages. There do exist, however, three significant exceptions.
The first is if there is suspicion that the sender is attempting to damage the system or harm another user. The second is if the correspondent or receiver consents to inspection or disclosure of the document(s). The third exception states that if the employer owns the e-mail system, then the employer may examine the contents of employee e-mail on the system. A court-ordered search warrant is required for law enforcement officials to access electronic communications.

It should not be assumed that service account information is kept private. Member directories are provided by many services, which publicly lists all subscribers to the service. Membership lists may also be sold from the service provider to direct marketers.
Many web sites deposit data about an individual?s visit onto his own hard drive while he is surfing the web. This data is called cookies. When the user returns to that site the cookies reveal that he has been there before and may offer products or ads based on the cookies data that has been retrieved.
A potentially valuable source for profits for online services is enclosed within the records of subscribers browsing patterns or transaction-generated information. Marketers utilize this data to develop highly targeted lists of online users with related likes and behaviors. It is possible for online services to interfere with the memory of home computers signing onto the service. Personal files have been copied and collected by the online services in some cases.
Another major concern within computer security is electronic attacks by computer hackers on government and business computers. A case in Massachusetts occurred in March 2000 where a boy was charged with having caused airport-control-tower computers to be out of service for six hours. There was also another case in April 2000 in which a man was arrested for having broken into a NASA web site and caused more than $70,000 worth of damage.
In July of 2000 two California teenagers pleaded guilty to juvenile delinquency charges after they accessed computers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and
the U.S. Air Force. This attack raised government fears because it indicated the effectiveness of a well-organized and systematic hacker attack. The huge scope of the Internet worried some government officials, who saw unfettered Internet gambling as a threat to society.
The computer industry has developed a tool called encryption, which scrambles electronic information so that it is difficult to interpret by anyone else. ?Citing the dangers of Internet crime and terrorism, the federal government wants the tools to crack each individual?s encryption code.? ( Confidentiality, ambiguity and protection in the digital world are dependant upon encryption.
Encryption techniques jumble sensitive information so that it can only be converted with a key code- a passkey that unlocks the scrambled electronic data. Encryption can also be used to generate distinctive ?digital signatures? that validate the real identity of the correspondent and are at the heart of protected electronic trade.

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Even though it may seem immediate, an e-mail message travels from one?s computer to several computer hosts across the world before finally reaching its destination. At every stopping point, it could be intercepted and examined by anyone who has right of entry to those mediator computer hosts. These intrusions may be confined by encryption.
In order to avoid absorption of the cost of creating two versions of encryption- one for domestic sale, and one for foreign, the U.S. companies that produce encryption software distribute only weak encryption in this country. These codes lack efficiency in protecting privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes that
government control of cryptography code keys is unconstitutional. ?If encryption is speech then being required to give your key code to the government is a form of forced, or compelled, speech, which is prohibited by the First Amendment.?( In a case in June 1997, Reno vs. ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled that online speech is entitled to the same First Amendment protection as printed speech.
It is necessary for the battle for privacy to be fought on many fronts such as legal, political, and technological. The Internet presents many benefits in the lives of patrons. However, as it is seen, it may bring new threats to personal privacy. Any cyberspace users should be aware of the potential of the invasion of privacy and should thoroughly inspect new services before moving further.

Works Cited
?Privacy in America: Computers, Phones and Privacy.? ACLU In Brief: Computers,
Phones and Privacy. 1997 The American Civil Liberties Union. 4 March 2001
?Anonymous Communications on the Internet.? AAAS Anonymous Communications on
the Internet Project. 1997-1999 American Association for the Advancement of
Science. 4 March 2001 .

?Invasion of Privacy on the Internet.? Inc. 1999-2001 2 April 2001

?Privacy Initiatives.? Federal Trade Commission. 4 March 2001

?Rules of the Road for the Information Superhighway.? Privacy In Cyberspace. 1999
Privacy Rights Organization. 4 March 2001
Gillin, Donna. ?Privacy Issues Take Center Stage in 2001.? American Marketing
Association Spring 2001. Chicago. 2 April 2001
MacMillan, Robert ?Web Anonymity Comes With Annoyances.? The Washington Post
Feb 16,2001 Washington, D.C. 2 April 2001

?Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users? Attitudes About Online Privacy.? AT&T
Labs-Research Technical Report TR 99.4.3. 14 April 1999 AT&T Labs-
Research. 4 March 2001

?Protecting Your Privacy Online.? TRUSTe: for WEB USERS. 1999 Federal Trade
Commission. 4 March 2001 .

Untitled. Epic. 1999 Mark Rotenberg. 4 March 2001.


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