icubud (icubud) wrote,

A New Tool in Protecting Online Privacy

Business/Financial Desk; SECTB


13 February 2012

The New York Times

Late Edition - Final


Internet users who want to opt out of having their online behavior tracked by marketers have a couple of relatively easy options. They can change the privacy settings in their browser or click on the privacy icon that many display ads carry.

To find out what is really going on under the pages of many Web sites and the third-party ad networks they work with, however, users would have to take a more difficult route - reading the privacy policy for each Web site in detail. Buried deep within the legalese used in many privacy policies is information on how Web publishers collect and handle the data they use to show ads to their visitors.

But a new tool being released this week should make things easier. PrivacyChoice, a company that has analyzed and indexed the data in hundreds of privacy policies across the Web, has developed a system to score Web sites on a scale of 0 to 100 based on how a site collects and uses personal data.

''For the first time, Web publishers and their users have a way to easily compare privacy practices across the Web,'' said Jim Brock, the founder of PrivacyChoice, in a statement. ''This transparency not only allows people to make smarter decisions about their own data, it also will spur more protective privacy practices by sites and tracking companies, which is long overdue.''

The tool measures factors such as whether a Web site shares personal user data with other sites, how long a site retains that data and whether the site confirms that data has been deleted. Users who visit can search for Web sites they wish to have scored.

Users also can download a plug-in for their browsers that, when activated, will show a privacy score at the top of each Web site they visit.

I just installed it and the tracker blocker.

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