Australian e-business warned to lift privacy game

Australian e-businesses have been warned to review their privacy practices following the release of a local survey which found three quarters of the top 100 Internet sites were being used to collect personal information.

Federal Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton expressed concern about the e-privacy survey, which indicated most Web sites do not advise customers that personal details were being collected.

More than 70 per cent of Australian Web sites surveyed were collecting information, the report by professional services firm Arthur Andersen revealed.

Duncan Giles, partner at the Australian arm of the company Andersen Legal eCommerce, said there is a strong call to business to "take privacy seriously and act now".

"Consumers are increasingly demanding that information collected from them is dealt with in accordance with globally accepted standards," he said.

The top 100 most popular Web sites in Australia, covering news portals, finance, auction sites, search engines and directories as well as corporate Web sites were surveyed.

While the survey did not specifically name sites, it excluded adult sites, ad servers and Internet service providers.

Only one quarter of the Web sites surveyed notify users about the collection of specific personal information.

Despite the development of privacy and security seals and logos to be used as industry benchmarks proving companies have undergone a compliance assessment, only four per cent of those surveyed actually use privacy seals.

Only 28 per cent of the respondent sites allowed users to at least access and review information collected about them.

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