Survey: Online privacy is your problem, not DoubleClick's

Three out of four Americans believe that individuals are responsible for protecting their own privacy online. That's the bottom line of a new survey conducted by TRUSTe, a company that certifies the compliance of websites with privacy standards and statements.

Nonetheless, The New York Times reports that the Federal Trade Commission is trying to put more responsibility on website operators:

Last month, the F.T.C. revised its suggestions for behavioral advertising rules for the industry, proposing, among other measures, that sites disclose when they are participating in behavioral advertising and obtain consumers' permission to do so.

One F.T.C. commissioner, Jon Leibowitz, warned that if the industry did not respond, intervention would be next.

"Put simply, this could be the last clear chance to show that self-regulation can -- and will -- effectively protect consumers' privacy," [FTC commissioner Jon] Leibowitz said, or else "it will certainly invite legislation by Congress and a more regulatory approach by our commission."

Behavioral advertising, which records individual users' Web usage by inserting cookies into their browsers and keeping a log of where they go and what they do, is the most high-profile privacy issue today. Google-owned DoubleClick is tracks Web users across many sites, combining them into one profile at DoubleClick's end to be used for ad targeting. Some survey respondents use cookie-deleting browsers and anonymizing software to thwart tracking systems.

Privacy advocates, TRUSTe, and the FTC all strongly encourage companies to post meticulous privacy statements for online visitors, and to follow them to the letter. Still, only 15 percent of TRUSTe's survey respondents said they actually read privacy statements.

This story, "Survey: Online privacy is your problem, not DoubleClick's" was originally published by The Industry Standard.

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