IBM To Yank Ads From Sites With No Privacy Policy

In a move that is sure to bolster the use of privacy policies, IBM Corp., which plans to spend about $60 million on online ads this year, said Wednesday it will withdraw advertising from Web sites that don’t safeguard the personal data of consumers.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM sent a letter to 350 U.S. and Canadian Web sites on which it advertises, saying that as of June 1 it will only advertise on sites that post their privacy policy.

“As research indicates, people are becoming increasingly willing to do e- business,” IBM said in the letter. “However, there are key elements that will contribute to this growing acceptance. Particularly, that sites and organizations protect the security of transactions and privacy of personal information.”

“…Therefore, in support of our continued commitment to industry leadership on e-business, effective June 1, 1999, IBM in the United States and Canada will only advertise on Web sites that post a privacy policy statement.”

IBM said its new policy is based on principles of self-regulation that are supported by leading business-supported organizations in the United States such as the Online Privacy Alliance, TRUSTe, BBBOnline and FASTforward; as well as international policy organizations such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

“While the appropriate privacy statement will vary from site to site,” IBM said in its letter, “we strongly encourage Web-site owners to employ industry best privacy practices We have surveyed the Web sites that currently carry IBM advertising, and will continue to do so on a regular basis.”

IBM, reportedly the No. 2 advertiser on the Internet behind Microsoft Corp., estimates that only about 30% of the 800 sites where it advertises worldwide make such disclosures.

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