Online Privacy

Public Comments: August 2009 – WPF files comments on government use of web tracking technologies

The World Privacy Forum filed comments with the Office of Management and Budget regarding its proposal to begin to allow the use of tracking cookies on government web sites. The proposal was published in the Federal Register, and outlined a three-tiered plan for how web tracking technologies might be used. The Forum’s comments focused on methods of opt-out, data retention, secondary use, user authentication, new tracking technologies such as Flash cookies, and the need for new opt-out mechanisms. The Forum also urged the federal government to not allow third party tracking of consumers’ use of government web sites, and to guard against any discrimination against consumers who do not want to be tracked.

Facebook, MySpace, Xing receive warning letters from EU consumer group

Social networks — In the wake of Europe’s Article 29 Working Party Opinion on Social Network Providers adopted in June, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) has sent out warning letters to five social networking providers in Germany, including Facebook and MySpace. The letters focus on the excessive rights the companies allow themselves in their respective Terms of Use agreements, and on shortcomings in the privacy policies. VZBV is comprised of 41 German consumer associations.

IAB releases guidelines for controlling behavioral advertising practices

Self regulation — The Interactive Advertising Bureau has released its self-regulatory guidelines for online advertisers. There are some bright spots in the new guidelines. In the area of sensitive information, especially regarding health privacy, the guidelines are weak and need improvement. The IAB definition of sensitive health information is weaker than the definition of sensitive information already adopted by industry in the formal NAI agreement. Additionally, the new IAB guidelines rely on weak accountability standards. WPF urges the IAB to re-examine the sensitive health definition, provide more accountability, and to include consumer input in a meaningful way into the drafting process.

Consumer Tips: Job Searcher’s Guide to Online Job Sites

This guide to online job sites is a list of the top job searching sites online. This list gives information about the privacy practices at each site. Because resumes contain such detailed personal and professional information, it is well worth caring about how job search sites handle privacy issues. This guide is updated monthly, and we add new information to the guide monthly.