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IP: ISPI Clips 5.25: TRUSTe Brings Privacy Home

From: "ama-gi ISPI" <[email protected]>
Subject: IP: ISPI Clips 5.25: TRUSTe Brings Privacy Home
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998 00:30:34 -0700
To: <[email protected]>

ISPI Clips 5.25: TRUSTe Brings Privacy Home
News & Info from the Institute for the Study of Privacy Issues (ISPI)
Thursday October 8, 1998
[email protected]
This From: WIRED News, October 7, 1998

TRUSTe Brings Privacy Home

James Glave, [email protected]

9:05 a.m.  7.Oct.98.PDT
The major Web indexing firms have banded together with Web privacy group
TRUSTe [ http://www.truste.org/ ] to launch a national advertising campaign
aimed at educating consumers about online privacy issues.

The campaign, known as Privacy Partnership, will rely on donated banner
ads, distributed across the Net. Microsoft, for example, said it will
donate 20 million banner impressions, or individual viewings, on its
MSN.com service.

Microsoft (MSFT) described Privacy Partnership as a "grassroots campaign,"
but there is nothing small-time about the lineup of Web content and
indexing firms involved. Besides Redmond, AOL (AOL), Excite (XCIT),
Infoseek (SEEK), Lycos (LCOS), Netscape (NSCP), Snap, and Yahoo (YHOO) are
all on board. Lycos is the parent company of Wired Digital, owner of Wired

The Internet advertisements, explaining the importance of protecting
personal data online, will run between 12 and 31 October. All told, the
companies will contribute more than 150 million online advertising
impressions, worth more than US$3 million, in the form of banners and
messages on their Web sites. The campaign is expected to reach about 90
percent of all Internet users in the United States.

"Microsoft's commitment to online privacy is related to our ongoing vision
of empowering the individual to do more through the PC," said Bob Herbold,
Microsoft executive vice president and CEO, in a statement.

The publicity push is designed to bring the Internet privacy debate home to
middle America. The program will bring consumers into a conversation that
has so far been a terse exchange between the Internet industry, which wants
to regulate itself, and government, which is threatening to pass
consumer-protection laws.

"We want to be the first people to ask, 'Why doesn't government work with
business and work with consumers?'" said a source with TRUSTe.

The Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on the Internet industry for
what it claims is a failure to respect personal information relative to
consumers. In August, the commission punished GeoCities for allowing
personal customer information to fall into untrustworthy hands.

The FTC has given the industry until the end of this year to prove that
it's serious about protecting consumer privacy. If that doesn't happen, it
will recommend congress pass laws to do it for them.

A recent survey
[ http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/15428.html ] found that
more than 40 countries have enacted, or plan to enact, consumer
data-protection laws.

TRUSTe is leading the charge to stop the United States from doing the same
thing. The nonprofit industry group runs a program that awards a TRUSTe
seal to Web sites that respect and preserve individual privacy.

"The average citizen... [has] no idea they can't participate in self
regulation," said the TRUSTe source. "If we don't do these things, then
government will fail and self-regulation will fail.

"In the privacy arena, what is really critical is that this is all moving
really fast. The industry is collecting data faster than anyone can stop
them. We want the government to put in the principles so that privacy
doesn't become for the information age what the environment was to the
industrial age."

One Web-privacy advocate agreed, but said that a consumer-education
campaign is a distraction that allows the big Internet companies to shirk
their responsibilities.

"Focusing on 'consumer education' is an attempt to shift responsibility
back on the victim, which makes little sense when those people have so
little technical and legal power to protect their own interests," said
Jason Catlett, president of JunkBusters.

"Detroit tried the same PR trick in the '60s, because telling people that
they should drive more carefully was cheaper than being required to
engineer safer cars and to take responsibility for the numbers of people
that were getting killed," Catlett said.

"How many more horror stories must we read before consumers will get more
than 'You should have chosen better companies' for an answer?"

Last week, the accounting firm of Ernst & Young told Wired News that it had
signed on as a TRUSTe sponsor, and plans to work closely with the group to
establish an e-commerce assurance program.

Copyright  1994-98 Wired Digital Inc.

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