FTC CITES WEB PROGRESS IN PROMOTING PRIVACY: RESULTS DON'T DETER SENATORS FOR LEGISLATION

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A study showing dramatic growth in the listing of privacy policies at marketer Web sites isn't slowing the push for U.S. legislation to regulate privacy.

Some groups suggest the new report, prepared for the Federal Trade Commission, should remove some of the urgency to enact legislation, but others say the legislative push likely will continue.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.) and U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) said they would proceed with their own privacy legislation despite the study.

FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky called the report's results "encouraging." But he said that didn't mean his agency would withhold a recommendation for privacy legislation.

'ASK ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS'

"Obviously, the numbers are way up and further than anyone expected," he continued. "But we have to get behind the numbers to ask additional questions about how clear and conspicuous the disclosure is and whether there is adequate monitoring."

The study, a follow-up to the agency's study of last summer, was conducted for the FTC by Georgetown University Professor Mary Culnan and is more comprehensive than the agency's previous study.

The earlier study said just 14% of marketers' Web sites had privacy policies.

Ms. Culnan reported that nearly two-thirds of the 364 sites she and students sampled during a week in March had posted privacy policies and 87% of those included at least one of the five elements of privacy disclosure -- notice, choice, access, security and contact information.

Only about 15%, however, included all the elements.

In a separate report funded by the Online Privacy Alliance, Ms. Culnan found 94% of the top 100 Web sites had posted a privacy statement or information disclosure statement.

LEGISLATION UNNECESSARY

Christine Varney, the former FTC commissioner who heads the Online Privacy Alliance, said the study shows legislation isn't necessary.

"What we have seen is the market is working," Ms. Varney said. "The FTC should not call for legislation at this point. They should do what they said they were going to do: look at the results and focus on areas that need further attention."

John Kamp, Washington VP of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, also urged Congress not to act.

"The results are beyond the wildest dreams of any lawmaker. It proves that you can achieve more with self-regulation than government regulation," he said.

Some other business groups were less convinced.

Ari Schwartz, policy analyst for the Center for Democracy in Technology, said there has to be some way to regulate the "bad actors" who don't subscribe to

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