Web privacy policies confuse Net surfers

Thursday, 26 June 2003, 1:29 PM EST

The dense, legalistic documents that many commercial Web sites post to explain their data-collection habits are more likely to provide false reassurance than clarity to Web surfers, the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center found.

Prompted by privacy concerns and the threat of national legislation, most top Web sites now contain prominent links to privacy policies that explain how visitors are tracked and what is done with e-mail addresses, names and other personal information they provide.

But while the disclosures may provide a measure of legal protection for the Web sites in question, they often end up misleading or confusing visitors, the report found.

More than half of the 1,200 adults surveyed for the report wrongly believed that the mere presence of a privacy policy meant that that the Web site would not sell or trade personal information about them.

[ Read more ]




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