E-Commerce Times Talkback
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Deep into the second quarter of the year and after
months spent struggling to survive, e-tailers are
finally shifting their focus back to the basics,
including, of course, consumer privacy.
With the economy finally showing signs of
stabilizing, Web merchants are confronting the issue
of who should serve as regulator of
online privacy -- private industry or the government.
Debate, discuss, debate, discuss -- meanwhile, nothing happens besides online merchants abusing consumer privacy. There are several technologies now available that provide privacy on the Internet, and a couple actually eliminate the need for any legislation (which is a bad approach anyway -- the technology changes too fast for legislators to keep up). The retailers on the Web don't perceive those as being in their interest, and consumers have a hard time finding out about them. Two of the better are found at www.iprivacy.com and www.onlineprivacyguard.com.
I completely agree with the premise that privacy is my right. I cannot understand why the American consumer is being so cavalier in his or her approach to these issues. Compromising our online privacy right now will come back to haunt us in the future.
Actually, I'm one of those who used to decry the advancement of government into issues surrounding the new economy, but now I've changed my mind. I truly want to see some regulations put in place that all online businesses must adhere to.
We've become a complacent culture, and it's this complacency that could easily bring us down in the information age. I'm concerned about it and I think all of you should be too.
The concern for privacy for all is an issue that many people have different thoughts about. I for one ACCEPT this. With the infancy of the Internet, privacy means so much RIGHT NOW. Being bombarded with so many information, it's difficult enough to sort out which ones are suited to ones' needs, and @ times, a large percentage of those are pure CRAP!
I encourage all of you to take a stand and embrace your own rights to privacy. It's crucial to all mankind. Stand up for what you feel and believe!
Somehow every business hopes that somebody else will be the one to deal with privacy issues so they don't have to. I predict that web privacy will be the biggest issue in the wired (and soon, wireless) world.
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has been universally ignored by most businesses that deal directly with children. Those businesses still serve invisible cookies with their web pages. They still gather information from children without parents consent or knowledge and they don't display prominent and effective privacy policies on their sites. They don't allow parents access to the information provided by their children or notify parents when children do provide private information.
Why is everyone waiting for something to happen? It's time to take online privacy seriously and protect consumer privacy seriously. It's easy to do the reasonable things required by the FTC to remain in compliance with privacy laws. It is time to get serious about privacy and do it proactively!
Mike Banks Valentine
The scariest thing about online privacy is that most of us don't have any, and haven't had any for quite a while.
It's already too late to regain all the privacy we have lost; instead we need to focus on regulating how the information companies have about us can be used.
The U.S. is a holdout when it comes to privacy laws; most European countries already have enacted privacy legislation to protect their citizens' data.
One of the best books I've read on the subject of privacy protection is Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century, by Simson Garfinkel. Highly recommended if you're trying to get a grasp of the issues involved.
Privacy rights have been fading away for years and the computer has certainly accelerated the trend. Now with the Internet recording every browse and buy -- and databases being so easily meshed -- the concept of what should be private has changed entirely. It's high time to change it back. I agree that people need to be more outraged about these issues.