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Part I: Life in the Digital Age: Why We ... > Privacy Organizations and Initiative...

Chapter 3. Privacy Organizations and Initiatives

The consumer on his own stands no chance of defending his own privacy needs. The lack of power by the individual consumer has given rise to a number of organizations that should lessen the burden of fighting the “forces of evil” that would take away all our privacy rights. “Forces of evil” might be a strong term, but how else to describe companies and governments that would strip others of an inherent right to be left alone and to keep our personal information confidential?

The U.S. government has failed to set the standards and controls necessary to ensure our privacy. It has been the task of the privacy industry, organizations, and individuals to create these standards. The government has even failed to meet its responsibilities on the standards of privacy. In 2000, the government banned cookies from most government sites, yet reports of 51 inspectors general found 300 cookies on the Web sites of 23 agencies that should not have been there. Cookies, as we mentioned in earlier chapters, track user information and browsing preferences. “These reports document a real problem—the violation of Americans' privacy by their own government on the Internet,” said Sen. Jay Inslee, (D-Wash). Auditors from that agency learned three contractors who maintained Web sites for government departments were collecting personal information, such as Social Security numbers, without disclosing how they used that information.


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