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IP: ISPI Clips 5.26: Coalition Announces Intiative for Online Privacy

From: "ama-gi ISPI" <[email protected]>
Subject: IP: ISPI Clips 5.26: Coalition Announces Intiative for Online Privacy
Date: Thu, 8 Oct 1998 00:32:02 -0700
To: <[email protected]>

ISPI Clips 5.26: Coalition Announces Initiative for Online Privacy
News & Info from the Institute for the Study of Privacy Issues (ISPI)
Thursday October 8, 1998
[email protected]
This From: The New York Times (Cybertimes), October 7, 1998

Coalition Announces Initiative for Online Privacy

JERI CLAUSING, [email protected]

ASHINGTON -- A coalition of major Internet companies on Wednesday unveiled
a sweeping online advertising campaign to teach consumers and Web sites
operators how to protect personal privacy on the Internet.

The initiative, which is being launched with the equivalent of $4 million
in Internet advertising banner commitments, was described as a huge
grassroots consumer education program that is expected to reach 9 of every
10 Internet users.

Called the Privacy Partnership [ http://www.truste.org/partners/ ], the
campaign was started by TrustE [ http://www.truste.org/ ], an independent,
nonprofit organization dedicated to building trust in the Internet, and
eight major Internet gateways, including America Online, Yahoo!, Excite,
Infoseek, Lycos, Microsoft, Netscape and Snap.

A number of other companies have since joined, and any Web site operator
can download a banner ad that has links to a privacy Web site.

"The Internet is medium for communications and commerce, but users' anxiety
and uncertainty about sharing personal information are preventing people
from taking advantage of the Internet's full potential, " said Susan Scott,
executive director of TrustE."

The announcement comes at a time when companies are working to prove to
federal lawmakers and regulators that they can establish an effective a
voluntary framework to control the use of personal information collected
online. Many of the companies involved in the new partnership are also
members of the Online Privacy Alliance, which has drafted guidelines
http://www.privacyalliance.org/ ] and an enforcement plan for companies to
follow when collecting personal information from consumers on the Internet.

The Clinton Administration, which has taken a hands-off approach to
Internet regulation, supports self-regulation of privacy policies. But the
Federal Trade Commission, which earlier this year released a survey of that
painted a dismal picture of the state of privacy protections online, has
recommended that Congress pass a bill to protect children from online
marketers, and that protections be extended to all consumers if
self-regulation has not made significant progress by January.

On Tuesday, groups pushing for strong privacy laws released a study showing
that nearly all industrialized countries have either adopted or are in the
process of adopting comprehensive privacy laws. The report by the Global
Internet Liberty Campaign, an international coalition of civil rights
groups [ http://www.gilc.org/ ], found that countries are adopting these
laws in many cases to address past governmental abuses, such as in former
Eastern Bloc countries; to promote electronic commerce, or to ensure
compatibility with international standards developed by the European Union,
the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and

"This report shows that there is substantial international support for
privacy protection," said David Banisar, policy director of the Electronic
Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., and one of the authors of
the report.

His co-author, Simon Davies, director general of Privacy International,
said, "The United States risks isolating itself from worldwide electronic
commerce with its opposition to adequate and enforceable privacy rights."

On Oct. 25, an European Union directive takes effect that is expected to
toughen national laws of 15 European governments whose privacy standards
are already more stringent than those of the United. The European laws
require that corporations get people's permission before collecting
demographic or marketing information about them. Without strong national
standards in the United States, Banisar said many companies may find
themselves unable to engage in electronic commerce in Europe.

Clinton Administration officials, however, have for months been working
with the European Union trying to convince European officials that the
standards voluntarily being enacted by American companies are sufficient.
And President Clinton's top Internet adviser, Ira C. Magaziner, insists
current efforts by industry will be acceptable.

"Things are moving along well now with self-regulation," Magaziner said
Tuesday. "We still need to see fully implemented results, but I think those
who advocate legislation assume that just as soon as you pass a law
everything is fine. Laws still have to be implemented and enforced. And we
question the effectiveness of enforcement of some of those laws. If
self-regulation works as we are hoping and expect, it will still be the
most effective way."

The Privacy Partnership advertising blitz begins Oct. 12 and will run
through Oct. 31. The campaign will use banner ads with links to a welcome
message from the Privacy Partnership. That message has two links. One takes
people to a TrustE site with information about how consumers can protect
their privacy online. The other will allow Web site operators to join the
Privacy Partnership by downloading the campaign's banner ads. It will also
provide Web site operators with more information on privacy principles and
tools to generate a privacy statement.

"For trust to be engendered on the Internet, companies must clearly state
what personal information they are collecting, how the information will be
used, and the choices available to the individual regarding the collection,
use and distribution of that information," Scott said.

"If we can alleviate consumer anxiety about what happens to their data.
Then everybody will do well."

Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company

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