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Summary

Privacy policies have been used to drive industry self-regulation and government laws. Self-regulation in the U.S. has been the dominant form of privacy protection. However, it is slowly giving way to government intervention. Companies that suffer no consequences when changing their privacy policies or outright ignoring them have constantly abused consumers. Even having a privacy policy is not always a given for many Web sites. Even though public outcry has caused privacy laws to be passed, tangible punishments for companies that violate these laws are not prevalent. With laws such as HIPAA and COPPA, among others, being passed and adhered to, consumer information can either be kept secure or be legally traded like baseball players in the off-season.

The global economy is taking consumer privacy more seriously, but that doesn't stop companies from using personal information to bombard you with junk e-mail and advertisements and using your surfing habits for targeted harassment. The EU has taken very aggressive steps toward keeping personal information secure. Other countries are moving toward more security and privacy laws because the global economy and consumers are pushing for change. No matter what laws are passed, the consumer still has to bear the weight of implementing steps to keep his home systems and personal information secure from the information brokers of the world.


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