Privacy: How Will You Maintain Your Privacy?
PrivacyWho is watching your online shopping activity?
Web sellers are not (yet) required by law to maintain the privacy of people who shop and/or order from their sites. This means that sellers may collect names, addresses and information on which website pages you visit, which products you buy, when you buy them, and where you ship them. Then, the seller may share the information with other companies or sell it to them. As a result, you might get more direct-mail advertising, spam, or calls from telemarketers.
Surveys have shown that this is a major concern consumers have about electronic shopping. In response, government regulators have encouraged internet sellers to post privacy policies on their web sites.
- What information the seller is gathering about you
- How the seller will use this information; and
- Whether and how you can "opt out" of these practices
A Monitored SiteIs the web site monitored by an independent organization?
Avoiding "cookies"How can you avoid "cookies," adware and spyware?
Some web sites are programmed to insert a small filecommonly called a "cookie"-- onto the hard drive of your computer. Some cookies serve to identify you to the website and may be required to use the site. Some function to save you the trouble of re-typing various information every time you visit. Others function to keep track of what sites you visit and what things you look for on the web and may even be able to obtain your e-mail address from your visit. Marketers are interested in such information and may use it to tailor ads to send to you. Hence the name "adware" is sometimes used to describe these programs.
Some programs added on to your computer when you download free programs or visit certain websites are less benign. When inserted on your computer without your permission, they are sometimes called "spyware." These programs may not only keep track of what you do on the net, they may even be used to keep track of what you type on your keyboard, including your personal information.
Here's how to avoid this:
- You can also buy software programs for your browser that will warn you of, and help you to refuse or control, attempts by web sites to deposit cookies, adware or spyware. Sometimes they are included in anti-virus packages or in security protection provided by your service provider. You may also wish to obtain "firewall" protection to cut off unwanted and unannounced intrusions.
Be AnonymousDo you want to visit a site without revealing your identity?
Visit www.anonymizer.com, then type the web address of the site into the "Anonymizer" web browser. The free Anonymizer service includes a slight delay in accessing pages; for a fee, you can access these pages with no delay. Other services, such as Tor, also offer free anonymous browsing software.
Discreet ConfirmationsAre you sure you want that confirming e-mail?
A number of commercial web sites will send you a confirmation e-mail message immediately after they receive your e-mail order. You may not want to order from those web sites if you are concerned that your employer or someone sharing your computer might see the message and the items ordered. If you're not sure of a site's confirmation policy, you could contact the site about it or order a non-controversial item first to see how the site's procedure works. If you are given the option not to receive a confirmation e-mail, you usually can print the last screen that appears in your transaction to have a record.
Your Credit CardPaying by credit card?
If you pay by using a credit card, you may be asked to choose whether to have the seller retain it on file for future orders. You might prefer not to have the credit card number kept on file, but instead to provide the card number again each time. The website may also allow you to choose to complete all of your order information on the web and telephone in your credit card number. Click on payment for more information on credit cards.