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Privacy issues

Definition

Privacy, for citizens and consumers, means freedom from unauthorized intrusion. For organizations, privacy involves the policies that determine what information is gathered, how it is used, and how customers are informed and involved in this process. Privacy is a legal issue, but it's also an information security issue. Customer outrage over stolen credit card numbers, for instance, is a privacy problem brought about by inadequate security.1

Many web sites include privacy statements to inform the customer about how they are going to use the information that they have collected.

Symptoms of Problems

A vast amount of personal information can be collected, stored, and used against a person.

The information collected by web sites can be used or sold to other marketing companies for target advertising. This information could also be passed on to other agencies without the user's consent, and result in the user receiving more unsolicited email.

Recommended Solutions

Personal information is collected through cookies. A cookie is a small piece of information that a web browser stores on your computer. A cookie stores specific information that can be retrieved at a later time.

You can set your privacy settings in most recent browsers. In Internet Explorer you can choose to accept or block cookies from specific web sites, as well as specify whether web sites can access cookies that are already stored on your computer.

There are also programs such as Cookie Monster (www.snapfiles.com/get/cookiemonster.html) that allow the user to control the cookies on their computer and block or restrict certain sites from obtaining these cookies.

Blocking third party cookies that do not have a compact privacy policy or that use personally identifiable information without implicit consent.

Tips

Restrict the number of forms you complete online and review the privacy policy on the sites visited.

Set your browser to a higher privacy rating. This will allow only certain web sites to obtain or retrieve cookies from your system. This will also let you decide whether you would like to accept or reject the cookie when accessing a certain website. Keep in mind some web sites will not grant you access to them if your privacy settings are too high.

Reference Articles

1www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn?stage=1&word=privacy

www.cio.com/summaries/web/privacy/

www.w3.org/Privacy/Activity.html


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