BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : MARCH 20, 2000 ISSUE
COVER STORY

The Language of Online Privacy


COOKIES
These tiny software programs keep a log of where people click, allowing sites to track customers' habits. Cookies are placed on consumers' computers when they first visit sites or use things like online calendars, personalized news services, or shopping carts.

ONLINE PROFILING
By using cookies, sometimes combined with personal information, sites build profiles about what customers do or don't buy, what they look at, how much time they spend in different areas, and what ads they click on.

REFERERS
Information that your Web browser passes along when you move from one site to another or use a search engine or even just send an e-mail. Referers can be collected and used to target advertising.

ADVERTISING NETWORKS
The Net equivalent of ad agencies, the most famous being DoubleClick, Engage, and 24/7. They amass millions of profiles of Web surfers based on their online habits. Ads are then aimed at those most likely to buy what is being pitched.

REGISTRATIONS
Anywhere you fill out personal information in order to download software, sign up for a free service, or buy something online. The data can be sold or shared with other Web sites or advertisers.

IP ADDRESS
A number automatically assigned to your computer whenever you connect to the Net. The numbers are used by network computers to identify your PC so that data can be sent to you. But addresses can be used in profiling and ad targeting.

PRIVACY POLICIES
Notices posted on a Web site that disclose how a company collects, uses, and shares data with partners or advertisers. These sometimes include opt-in and opt-out buttons.

OPT-IN AND OPT-OUT
Privacy choices that some Web sites offer to their visitors. In opt-out situations, the site is free to gather and sell information on you unless you specifically tell it not to by clicking on a button. With opt-in, gathering or selling your data is forbidden unless you click to give permission.

PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE INFORMATION
Your name, address, or credit card number and other details linked to your real-world identity.

THIRD-PARTY DATABASES
Companies like Acxiom and Experian stockpile information such as name, address, phone number, and income on most U.S. households. Increasingly, these companies are working with Web sites and software makers.



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