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Internet Privacy — What You Need to Know

Admit it: When did you ever read through a privacy statement on a website? Americans visit an average of 1,462 different websites annually. To read all of the privacy statements connected with each would take 10 days a year — if you are a fast reader able to get through a lot of legalese. The consequence is that most Web surfers don’t know what any website might be doing with personal information or to whom it might be selling this information to. We know that data mining is not only big business but also a matter of national security.

Disconnect, an Internet privacy company, has commissioned a series of icons to represent how websites treat user data. Instead of scrolling through pages of difficult language, an icon and its color will let you know generally how each website treats private user information.

  • A green symbol that looks like the male icon, a circle with an arrow coming out of it, indicates that a website either does not allow third-party tracking or notifies you if you are being tracked. Orange means that you might be observed unknowingly.
  • Green arrows indicate that a website uses your data only in ways you might expect from the nature of the site. Orange means that your data might be shared, and perhaps you should avoid entering.

Lastly, Disconnect uses numbers and colors. A green bordered number lets you know how many months a site will retain your data. An orange icon with an infinity sign means just that: infinitely.

Disconnect cannot rely on corporations to agree to the placement of the icons. Instead it hopes to create a browser extension that will display the icons for the convenience of the Web user. In addition, Disconnect is planning on creating a wiki that will allow Web users to classify sites based on their reading of privacy agreements.

If you are charged with an Internet privacy crime, be sure to consult with experienced criminal defense attorneys to protect your rights.

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