Internet Privacy:

Comparison of Federal Agency Practices With FTC's Fair Information Principles

AIMD-00-296R: Published: Sep 11, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how federal web sites would fare when measured against the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) fair information principles for commercial web sites. The FTC's fair information principles are: (1) notice; (2) choice; (3) access; and (4) security.

GAO noted that: (1) as of July 2000, all of the 65 web sites in GAO's survey collected personal identifying information from their visitors, and 85 percent of the sites posted a privacy notice; (2) the majority of these federal sites also met FTC's criteria for notice; (3) however, a much smaller number of sites implemented the three remaining principles-choice, access, and security; (4) few of the federal sites--3 percent--implemented elements of all four of FTC's fair information principles; and (5) finally, a small number of sites disclosed that they may allow third-party cookies--14 percent actually allowed their placement.

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