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ONLINE PRIVACY ALLIANCE URGES CONSUMERS TO LOOK FOR PRIVACY POLICIES WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Posted on November 24, 1999

      The Online Privacy Alliance, a group of nearly 100 global companies and trade associations dedicated to fostering the protection of privacy online, today reminded consumers to look for privacy policies when shopping on the Web this holiday season.

      "Ethical Web sites post privacy policies to tell customers what information is being collected, how it will be used and whether it is shared with or sold to other merchants," said Christine Varney, a former Federal Trade Commissioner and advisor to the OPA. "As a consumer, you should look for and read these privacy policies to make sure personal information is handled in a way that makes you comfortable."

      Nearly two-thirds of all commercial Web sites now post privacy policies. More and more sites also are displaying a privacy seal that shows that their privacy policy and practices have been reviewed by a respected organization like WebTrust, the Better Business Bureau Online, or TRUSTe.

      This Saturday, President Bill Clinton will use his weekly radio address to discuss promoting electronic commerce while protecting consumers during the holiday season. Experts predict that a record 30 million Americans will do some holiday shopping online this year. Many Web sites are taking special care to guarantee the shopping experience is comfortable and satisfactory. For the holidays, The Federal Trade Commission has posted useful shopping tips at WWW.FTC.GOV/FTC/CONSUMER

      A 90-second video produced by the OPA and distributed to television stations nationwide this Friday will remind consumers to look for and read privacy policies. In addition, the OPA is creating and distributing a brochure to help online businesses learn the five elements of a credible privacy policy. Information on how to create a privacy policy that builds consumer confidence and trust is available at WWW.PRIVACYALLIANCE.ORG

      "A good privacy policy should be easy to find and easy to read, it should tell consumers what information is being collected and how it will be used, it should tell customers how information is secured and how they can access it to verify accuracy," Ms. Varney said. "Good privacy policies also should give customers the ability to choose how information is used."

      The OPA suggests that consumers wanting to shop at a site that does not have a privacy policy should write to the Web site and ask them to post one.




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