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HIPAA

PRIVACYnotes Discussion List
Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

Respecting Privacy on the Web

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I-Privacy Digest
Security Protecting Privacy is Good for Business

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Published by: Mike Banks Valentine www.adventive.com
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March 28, 2002 Issue # 003

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.....IN THIS DIGEST.....

// -- MODERATOR COMMENT -- //

"Instant Messaging Archives" ~ Mike Banks Valentine

// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //

"Introductions" ~ Mike Banks Valentine

// -- CONTINUING DISCUSSION -- //

"Who Reads Privacy Policies?" ~ Mark Welch ~ Steven Rothberg

// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

"The Latest in Privacy Issues"

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// -- MODERATOR COMMENT -- //

Employees are often monitored at work by video cameras throughout the workplace, email monitored and archived, phone calls recorded, web surfing activity is monitored and now IM is being watched as well (see news story linked below). On the surface this all seems appropriate, but it can lead to inappropriate uses by those with access to that information.

We always make the assumption that everyone is honest and trustworthy and that those with access to stored information will use it only for necessary business purposes, but all the monitoring adds a burden to management to use archived information in a professional and unbiased manner with honesty and integrity. That is not always done. Needless to say, human failings inevitably intrude and lead to abuses.

The question becomes where do we draw the line on access to and use of the information gathered? If everyone were innocent and honest, there would be little need for any of this other than to protect company assets and to be certain paid employee time is used appropriately. But information can be misinterpreted or even dangerous when abused.

http://www.pcmag.com/article/0,2997,s=1490&a=24076,00.asp

Add your comments in the PC magazine forum as well!

http://discuss.pcmag.com/pcmag/start/?msg=5604

~ Mike Banks Valentine

 

// -- NEW DISCUSSION -- //

===> TOPIC: INTRODUCTIONS

From: Nobody

OK, LOL! I guess we're all a very private bunch here and yours truly will be the only known member of this list! Perhaps if I place one of those Global Positioning Satellite locators in the next issue, it will tell us where you opened your email and we'll offer a prize to the hacker who steals your personal information and shares it with the list. (See the Budweiser promotion news item below) Nah, I guess we'll accept anonymity on a list about privacy. I personally invited several of our current list members to join and could threaten to publicly expose personal details -- if I weren't a privacy advocate.

Shall we try again? Let the list know about your job as a Chief Privacy Officer, IT Security Chief or journalist focusing on privacy issues. Hackers are the ones expected to slink around quietly in dark corners and I know they are out there lurking behind the shield of anonymity, but I know there are some very interesting folks on the distribution list because I invited you to join us. If you will just share the boring stuff, then I'll keep mum on the juicy details - at least the things that I'm aware of. ;-)

~ Mike Banks Valentine

 

// -- CONTINUING DISCUSSION -- //

===> TOPIC: WHO READS PRIVACY POLICIES?

From: Mark J. Welch

Mike Valentine reported (in I-Privacy #001): >> "Harris found that 91% of US consumers say they would be more likely to do business with a company that verified its privacy practices with a third party." <<

Steven Rothberg replied (in I-Privacy #002): >> I'd be interested in learning how many of the 91 percent say they would be likely to spend even five seconds reading the privacy policies of companies with which they are considering doing business. My experience is that the vast majority of users say that they are concerned about privacy, but their actions are completely inconsistent with those concerns. <<

That's a really good question, which I answer with some "hard numbers" below.

I thought Steven was right: I thought I was "one of the few." I always check the privacy policy before I place an online order. I usually check the privacy policy before providing my email address or other information. I rarely read the whole thing -- but I always check to see that there is a privacy policy (I would never order from a firm that didn't have one). And I usually check the terms quickly to make sure the policy doesn't say "we will give all your private info to everyone." Before ordering, I also always check to make sure the company lists its address and telephone number somewhere (and usually you can find it at the end of the privacy policy).

And it certainly would be entirely reasonable for consumers who rely on a third-party verification of the privacy policy, to then not bother reading the privacy policy -- that's one reason to have third-party verification.

But none of this is meaningful without some "real world" numbers, so here goes:

I ran a WebTrends analysis for a very short interval of traffic at MovieGoods.com (an online retailer of movie posters).

During that short period: - the site received more than 30,000 visitors - 362 visitors put something in the "shopping cart" - the "Shipping Info" page was requested 155 times by 145 visitors - Orders were actually placed by 138 customers - the "About Us" page was requested 132 times by 116 visitors - the "Privacy/Security" page was requested 91 times by 84 visitors

This certainly suggests that a significant number of people did check the privacy policy before placing orders.

I am sure that not all of the 84 people who checked the privacy policy, actually placed orders, and I would be quite surprised if 50% of customers (people placing orders) ever checked the privacy policy. I don't have the time to trace how many of the 138 people who placed orders also checked the privacy policy (and in any event, some of them might have checked during an earlier visit before the time period I analyzed, and some of the people checking the privacy policy might have ordered at some later time). I also did not check to see what "path" consumers used -- did they check the privacy policy before adding items to their carts, or while starting the checkout process, or only when they were asked for a credit card number?

My conclusion is that a "significant" number of actual customers have read the privacy policy before placing an order. I think this means more attention should be paid to writing clear and concise privacy policies, and making sure that links to the policy appear on every page of the site so consumers can check the policy whenever they want. Also, since shoppers

probably check the "privacy page" quite late in the shopping process, and are apparently preparing to "commit" the order, this page might be used to present other information relevant at the "close" (such as a prominent link to shipping info).

-- Mark J. Welch - Internet Performance Marketing Consultant -- http://www.MarkWelch.com/

[ Moderator Comment ] Since we currently distribute this list weekly individual posters communicate directly off-list and Mark was copied on the response from the next post from Steven Rothberg, whose original comment is below. Follow-up by Mark Welch is below Steven Rothberg's comment. Got that? ;-)

 

===> TOPIC: WHO READS PRIVACY POLICIES? FOLLOW UP

From: Steven Rothberg

I commend Mark Welch for digging into the traffic information for MovieGoods to help us all better understand how many of their customers actually took the time to view the privacy information on his site. He indicated that of the 30,000 visitors, 138 bought something and 84 viewed the privacy information. Because of the amount of time that it would take to correlate the numbers, Mark is unsure how many of those who bought something also viewed the privacy information.

If most of the 84 did so prior to purchasing something, then up to 61 percent of their customers reviewed the privacy policy. That would be tremendous. On the other hand, if the percentage of those who both bought something and viewed the privacy policy was the same as those who visited the site and viewed the privacy policy, then as few as 0.28 percent viewed the privacy policy. That would be dismal.

We probably all agree that the percentage of those who both bought something and viewed the privacy policy is somewhere between 0.28 percent and 61 percent. Mark certainly knows his customers better than I do, but if I had to lay money on a probable percentage, I'd pick about five percent. If I'm anywhere close to being correct, then I would view that as being a very low percentage and probably reflective of the fact that the people who participate in lists such as this are not representative of most of the people who visit our sites and purchase our goods and services.

Steven Rothberg,
http://www.CollegeRecruiter.com
Search Our Database of 500,000 Jobs. Which One Do You Want?

 

===> TOPIC: WHO READS PRIVACY POLICIES? FOLLOW UP

From: Mark J. Welch

After my earlier analysis, I ran a new WebTrends report on another slice of MovieGoods traffic, looking only at requests for two files: the privacy/security page, and the "order confirmed" page.

As Steven suspected, the overlap is minimal. Of the 359 customers who placed orders, only 10 had reviewed the privacy/security policy during the same visit.

-- Mark J. Welch - Internet Performance Marketing Consultant -- http://www.MarkWelch.com/

 

// -- PRIVACY NEWS -- //

Got a mobile phone? We know where, when, and who you are! Mobile industry proposes opt-in policy for cellular users to help them avoid location-based mobile text messaging spam.

http://www.mbusinessdaily.com/story/news/MBZ20020320S0007

Budweiser has launched a World Cup promotion using global positioning satellite technology. It has hidden special transmitters inside beer cans and bottles sold in multi-packs in stores across the UK. Opening a special can or bottle will be picked up by communications satellites. Winners will be tracked down and receive a trip to see England and Ireland in the World Cup finals.

http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_538560.html

Bush administration proposed dropping a requirement at the heart of federal rules that protect the privacy of medical records. It said doctors and hospitals should not have to obtain consent from patients before using or disclosing medical information for the purpose of treatment or reimbursement.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/22/politics/22PRIV.html (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

Scannable driver licenses threaten privacy when scanned and stored by businesses such as bars, convenience stores and other commercial interests by keeping detailed records locally and making them accessible by any employee with access to the scanner.

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/21/technology/circuits/21DRIV.html (Free membership required, read the privacy policy!)

 

 

 

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