Jun 262009
 June 26, 2009  Posted by  Business, Govt, Online

In a Brookings Institute study, “Comparing Technology Innovation in the Private and Public Sectors” (pdf), authors Darrell M. West and Jenny Lu compared the sectors on a number of factors, including privacy and security. They report, in part:

A growing number of websites offer privacy and security statements, yet they remain more prevalent on commercial versus public sites. Ninety-seven percent of corporate sites had a privacy policy, compared to 73 percent of state government sites and 84 percent of federal government sites. Seventy-nine percent of corporate sites had a security policy, compared to 57 percent of state government and 77 percent of federal sites.

In order to assess particular aspects of privacy and security, we evaluated the content of the following publicly posted statements. For privacy policies, we sought the following features: whether the privacy statement prohibited commercial marketing of visitor information; use of permanent cookies or individual profiles of visitors; disclosure of personal information without the prior consent of the visitor, or disclosure of visitor information to law enforcement agents.

In this analysis, we found that the public sector did a better job than companies in protecting consumer privacy. For example, only 10 percent of corporate sites prohibited the use of cookies, compared to 39 percent of state government sites and 56 percent of federal government websites. Ninety-one percent of corporate sites said they shared information with law enforcement, compared to 48 percent of state agencies and 72 percent of federal agencies.

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