Call Don't Click: Why It Is Smarter to Order a Federally Mandated Credit Report Via the Phone Instead of the Internet

new report issued today by Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum ( in advance of the March 1 rollout of free credit reports to Midwest residents, shows that consumers may be better off calling or mailing for their federally mandated free credit report instead of going online for it.

Survey Finds Most Online Pharmacies Do Not Give HIPAA Privacy Notices

Readability consultant Mark Hochhauser, Ph.D., in cooperation with the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, conducted a survey of 50 online pharmacy web sites from mid-April through July 9, 2004. Of the 50, a scant 11 sites (22%) included a HIPAA privacy notice as required by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the federal medical privacy rule.

What Is HealthVault? Things to Think About Before You Participate

HealthVault is Microsoft's new service for storing, managing, and accessing a patient's medical information.  It operates as an online encrypted service.  The service offers a voluntary opportunity for medical records to be collected by aggregating information from various sources including health-care providers, insurance companies, and compatible medical devices (such as blood pressure monitoring devices).

Privacy Expectations in a High Tech World

Now, we're experiencing the explosion of commerce on the Internet. Web sites are able to capture data from their visitors, and to merge that data with other information. With the exception of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and a smattering of state laws regulating spam, or unsolicited electronic mail, there is little regulation of data collection on the Net.

So, what are consumers' experiences on the Net concerning their privacy? I will list several themes that I've observed in talking to consumers and in following news stories about online privacy abuses in recent months.

The Emperor's New Clothes: Privacy on the Internet in 1999

The most irrefutable finding of the May 1999 Internet Privacy Policy Survey (hereinafter called the Survey) is that collection of personally identifiable information is the norm on commercial web sites. The Survey found that 93% of the sites in the sample (n=364) collect at least one type of personal information (such as name, email address, postal address). Only 7% of the sites collect no information.(2)

For customers, from the President and CEO of Egghead -- Deadline Sept. 21, 2001

Dear Valued Customer,

As you know from my previous letter, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is in the process of selling its ongoing business.  As part of the sale process, has entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Fry's Electronics but other companies will be given the opportunity to outbid Fry's.  As a result, another company might be approved by the court as the actual buyer.  We plan to complete the sale soon and in no event later than September 30, 2001.

True or False? You Can Find Out Anything About Anybody on the Net

Privacy on the Internet is exploding as a topic of public concern these days. Recent surveys have found that 4 out 5 Net users are concerned about threats to their privacy when they're online. Yet only 6% of them have actually experienced privacy abuses.

Those who are not yet on the Net cite privacy as the main reason they have chosen not to become Internet users. If electronic commerce is going to thrive, this fear is going to have to be dealt with by laws and by industry practices. The Clinton Administration is counting on industry to regulate itself, something I will touch on later.

Comments to the Los Angeles City Council: Public Policy Ramifications of Cloud Computing

I am writing to express concern about the proposal for the City of LA to implement Google Apps for its e-mail and office systems.

I am concerned about the propriety of a government entity using services that are “in the cloud,” so to speak, as repositories for sensitive personal and organizational information.

I question if enough is yet known about the privacy, security and confidentiality of personal information in a cloud environment.


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