Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Companies Trying to Make Privacy Big Business

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Companies Trying to Make Privacy Big Business

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Protecting the privacy of consumers on the Internet is big business these days, or at least it might be.

Though profits remain elusive, companies are producing new software and new technologies at an unprecedented rate to help people online preserve their anonymity, keep credit-card numbers safe and warn them about Web sites that may sell their personal secrets to others.

The latest is a clever, free software program released yesterday on the Internet from Enonymous Inc., which warns consumers about each Web site's privacy promises whenever they're asked to surrender their name, e-mail address and other personal information.

The company, a small Internet startup based in San Diego, said it reviewed and rated the privacy guarantees of the 10,000 most popular Web sites, including those by Amazon.Com, America Online Inc. and the Microsoft Corp. The tool means consumers won't need to study the fine print on promises, which can be hard to find and filled with legal jargon.

"For consumers who don't want to go through and read a privacy statement, this is a really great thing for them," said Michelle Slack, an analyst for Jupiter Communications, a New York research company.

The software displays warnings for those sites with weak guarantees. Enonymous promised to update its ratings regularly and review new policies at Web sites other than the top 10,000 where its customers spend time.

"We don't want to be adversarial with Web sites," said David Taylor, the company's chief executive officer. "We want them to realize it's good for business to have a good privacy policy."

Novell Inc., the $1 billion computer networking giant, planned to unveil its latest Web privacy tool, called "Digital Me," at an Internet trade show in New York today.

A Novell executive, Mike Sheridan, told Congress earlier this year that the technology will let consumers cloak themselves behind different profiles to control what information Internet sites collect.

Lawmakers and federal regulators have so far resisted calls for new national privacy laws protecting Internet users. …

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