Six separate privacy stories are in the news this week, and CNET responded with four staff-written articles. At least three outlets ran Associated Press privacy stories. Wired News, usually on top of the subject, gave it a rest today. No outlet tried to put everything in perspective, though CNET produced a collection page to link their stories.
On Tuesday the Government Accounting Office issued a report lambasting the (lack of) privacy policies and practices on the government's own Web sites. On Wednesday an international privacy summit opened in Washington, D.C., focusing on the U.S. government's call for industry self-regulation. That same day the Privacy Foundation said Web sites should disclose their use of "Web bugs" to track visitors. And two privacy organizations loudly resigned from Amazon.com (AMZN)'s Associates program to protest the retailer's recent loosening of its privacy policies. CNET covered Microsoft (MSFT)'s recent spate of privacy surprises, including an Internet Explorer bug and an admission that the company tracks visitors across MSN Web properties. Finally, there's an AP story on the increasing ease of identity theft and one on new legislation to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
The AP's story on identity theft was triggered by an expert's testimony before the House Banking Committee. AP attributed to "the government" the factoid that identity theft is among the fastest-growing crimes in the country, now afflicting 500,000 people annually. The staff of the Banking Committee chairman telephoned information brokers and private investigators around the country to see who would sell them bank-account information. The AP wrote, "In less than three hours, the first 10 companies they reached were willing to sell detailed account data likely only to be obtained through deceptive means. None turned them down." - Keith Dawson
For Amazon, Honesty May Not Be the Best Policy
The Industry Standard
Shining the Privacy Spotlight
Failing the Privacy Test (AP)
Privacy Groups Cut Amazon Ties (AP)
Personal Identity Theft on the Rise (AP)
Subcommittee Passes Electronic Privacy Bill