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Privacy is the No. 1 issue for consumers in evaluating online retailers, according to a survey being released this week by NFO Interactive. The Greenwich, Conn., online research company queried about 4,500 online users; 2,600 of them were online shoppers, who evaluated 13 popular Web sites.

The rest were not online shoppers; privacy was their key concern, and 28% said they would want to shop at online merchants that allowed them to return goods to a bricks-and-mortar location.

Overall, the survey found that online users' top attributes in evaluating commerce sites were protection of privacy, secure payment systems, reliability, up to date content and timely product delivery.

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Internet Advertising Bureau expects to hire its first executive director after Labor Day. "The medium has matured enough that there is a need for a full-time position," says Rich LeFurgy, IAB chairman. . . . Pets.com today announces a deal with PlanetOut to put a pet store on the gay/lesbian site (www.planetout.com). A Greenfield Online study found 60% of gays and lesbians own at least one pet. . . . Web shop U.S. Interactive went public August 10 and at press time last week was still trading at its offering price of $10. . . . . More.com, an online drugstore, launches August. 17. with advertising from GGCNY,

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