Privacy Commissioner Warns Net Traders

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 with most Web sites not advising customers 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 Anderson revealed.

The Australian arm of the company Anderson Legal eCommerce partner Duncan Giles 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 were surveyed covering news portals, finance, auction sites, search engines and directories as well as corporate Web sites.

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

Only one quarter of the Web sites surveyed notify users about the specific personal information that the site collects.

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

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

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