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Privacy Guarantees Are “Open to Question,” Turow Tells the FTC

“Most e-commerce sites today have privacy policies, but whether these policies provide privacy protection remains an open question.” That was the message delivered to the Federal Trade Commission in Washington Tuesday by Joseph Turow, director of the Information and Society Program at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC).

“Privacy,” like the term “free,” has lost its meaning in the marketplace, Turow said. As a result, consumers expect privacy that, in reality, is by no means assured.

Turow and colleagues at the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at U.C. Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law, detailed their findings on the weakness of privacy policies in a paper entitled “The FTC and Consumer Privacy in the Coming Decade.”

>Among the finding cited by Turow are the results of two APPC surveys that show Americans are deeply concerned about the privacy of their personal information. Last year, 79 percent of those surveyed said they agreed or agreed strongly with the statement that “I am nervous about websites having information about me.”