Online Privacy: Using the Internet Safely


Fact Sheet 18Online Privacy:
Using the Internet Safely

This fact sheet explains how your online activities may compromise your privacy and the steps you can take to protect youself. As consumers increasingly go online in so many aspects of their daily lives, the challenge is enjoy the conveniences of online activities while limiting the privacy sacrifices. As the focus of online activity migrates from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and other mobile devices, the mechanisms for protecting your privacy continue to evolve.

Oct. 11 Privacy Event: The Digital Collection of Personal Information from Consumers and Citizens


In Washington D.C. on Tuesday, October 11, privacy and civil liberties experts will convene to discuss how the digital collection of personal information harms consumers and citizens. Every day, companies amass information about consumers via online tracking, digital devices, and public records. These practices are largely unregulated, but have serious consequences for consumers and society.

The panel will be from 8:45 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Watch LIVE online at http://www.visualwebcaster.com/ProtectingConsumerPrivacyOnline.

The event is sponsored by the ACLU, Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, US PIRG and World Privacy Forum.

The Proliferation of Online Information Brokers and Reports of Abuses of Consumer Privacy


The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (PRC) appreciates the opportunity to submit the following comments on the online information broker industry to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as part of the agency’s deliberations for the Privacy Roundtables series.

The online information broker industry has come to the forefront of consumer privacy issues in recent years. Information brokers are companies that compile information on individuals via public, semi-public and private records and offer this information via online “lookup” services, often with no questions asked. Some charge a fee while others provide their services at no charge. Consumers who are attempting to limit the availability of their personal information, due to concerns about privacy, safety or identity theft, have lodged numerous complaints against this industry with the PRC over the years.

The Proliferation of Online Information Brokers: Noncompliance with Their Own Privacy Policies and Other Problems


There are dozens of information brokers in the marketplace today that make information about individuals widely available, often with no questions asked, some of them at no charge and others for a fee.

Online Information Brokers and Your Privacy


There are many websites that sell or provide for free, personal information about individuals. This information is gathered from many sources including white pages listings (directory assistance), publicly-available sources and public records.

Public Records on the Internet: The Privacy Dilemma


One of the most challenging public policy issues of our time is the balancing act between access to public records and personal privacy - the difficulty of accommodating both personal privacy interests and the public interest of transparent government. I will discuss the privacy implications of making public records containing personal information available on the Internet. I list nine negative consequences of the availability of public records online. I conclude by offering 11 recommendations for safeguarding personal privacy while upholding the public policy reason for providing access, that being to promote government accountability.

FTC Consumer Privacy Workshops: Data Base Study



In September 1996, there was a flurry of controversy surrounding the sale of personal information by the Lexis-Nexis company vis-a-vis its P-TRAK service. Although much of the brouhaha centered on the sale of Social Security numbers, which Lexis-Nexis had curtailed a few months earlier, the public outcry illustrated a growing concern about electronic privacy. The Lexis-Nexis phone lines were jammed with people requesting that their records be deleted from the P-TRAK data base.

What most of these people did not realize is that Lexis-Nexis is not the only seller of personally identifiable information.

Federal Reserve Board "Credit Header" Comments


Recent amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, signed into law on September 30, 1996, directed the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board to conduct a study on the availability of sensitive identification information about consumers and the possible use of such information for financial fraud.

The comments provided herein by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse focus on "credit header" information as well as the widespread availability of Social Security numbers.

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