Privacy Assured programme aims to protect online consumers

A consortium of Internet companies has announced an initiative called Privacy Assured which aims to protect the personal privacy of online consumers.

A consortium of Internet companies has announced an initiative called Privacy Assured which aims to protect the personal privacy of online consumers.

Companies on the World Wide Web who wish to assure customers that information given on the site will remain private can join the Privacy Assured programme by adhering to a set of guidelines outlined by the consortium. The consortium is headed by electronic directory publisher WorldPages and includes other members such as Match.Com, NetAngels.Com, Four11 and I/PRO.

Privacy Assured was launched as a pilot programme under the eTrust programme announced in July by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. eTrust is a group of online businesses and privacy experts whose mission is to create standards and Web site ratings aimed at protecting personal privacy on the Internet.

Many consumers fear that personal information is at risk when entered into a Web site, says Timothy Dick, president of WorldPages and a Privacy Assured founder. The industry must band together to establish standards that make consumers feel safer about purchasing products and exchanging information over the Internet, he says.

In order to be a Privacy Assured-certified Internet company, Web sites must subscribe to the following principles: not knowingly list information on individuals which has not previously been made publicly available; not allow reverse searches which find people's names from addresses or phone numbers; release only anonymous usage statistics and not release personal information such as who clicked on what ad, unless given prior consent; allow people to remove their names from online lists.

Participants who meet all of these guidelines can display a Privacy Assured logo on their Web sites to notify users that the site is a safe place for personal information, according to the press release.

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