Most Sites Have Privacy Statements

Almost two-thirds of the sites surveyed for privacy disclosures have at least one type of disclosure, either a privacy policy notice or an information practice statement. The study, conducted by Georgetown University, found that 65.7 percent of the 364 sites surveyed have a privacy disclosure statement posted.

More than one-third have both types of disclosures posted, and 34.3 percent did not post either type of privacy disclosure.

The overwhelming majority of sites visited for the survey (92.9 percent) collected at least one type of personal identifying information (for example, name, email address, mailing address). More than half (56.9 percent) collected at least one type of demographic information (gender, ZIP code, preferences, etc.). Both types of information was collected by 56.5 percent of the sites, and neither type was collected by just 6.6 percent.

The content of each privacy disclosure was analyzed for four elements of fair information (notice, choice, access, and security) and whether or not they posted contact information to ask questions or complain about privacy.

Of the 237 sites that collected personal information and posted a privacy disclosure, 87 percent included at least one survey element for notice, 77 percent contained at least one survey element for choice, 40 percent contained at least one survey element for access, 46 percent contained at least one for security, and 49 percent contained at least one for contact information.

The sample for the study consisted of 364 sites in the .com domain visited by consumers at home drawn from a sampling frame of 7,500 URLs based on unduplicated visits during January 1999. The unduplicated reach of the sites is 98.8 percent. Data were collected by 15 graduate students during March 1999. Data for the study was provided by Media Metrix.

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