*Top 100 Firms Score Better on Online Privacy

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Preliminary findings from Georgetown University's 1999 Internet Privacy Policy Survey released yesterday reveal that 65.7 percent of Web sites post some kind of online privacy policy regarding their use of consumers' personal information, but less than 10 percent abide by the five critical guidelines called for by the FTC and leading privacy advocates.


A similar but far less comprehensive study of Internet privacy conducted by the FTC less than a year ago found virtually no privacy policies posted on the majority of commercial Web sites.


Although the key findings of both studies can hardly be compared, the Georgetown study makes clear that in less than one year, that there has been a solid willingness on behalf most major companies doing business on the Web to at least begin engaging consumers on the issue of privacy.


At the Direct Marketing Association in New York, H. Robert Wientzen president/CEO told DM News the report shows that the business world is capable of overseeing its actions even though its clear that there is more work ahead for everyone. "The reality is that this is good news" he said. "We do have some things to do, but the progress is quite notable. It demonstrates that self regulation can do the job."


However, Jerry Berman, executive director of the Center for Democracy and


Technology, Washington, said the industry and advocacy groups should work together to " provide the factual basis for all parties to come together and develop the mix of self-regulation, regulation, technical tools and education to provide privacy protections across the 'Net."


Key survey findings include:


*92.9 percent of the sites collect "personally identifying information."


*65.7 percent of Web sites are currently posting a privacy policy detailing how consumer information is used by the company.


*9.5 percent of Web sites are providing consumers with notices that meet all five standards called for by the Federal Trade Commission in their Report to Congress in 1998.


The Georgetown Internet Privacy Policy Survey was conducted with the support of the FTC and funding from several companies and trade associations.
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