Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to keep their lives and personal affairs out of public view, or to control the flow of information about themselves.
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|Increasingly, the world economy is changing to an information society that will improve people's everyday lives. Consumers will benefit from faster and more comprehensive services and knowledge as well as customized offerings. However, with the increased flow of personal information come new privacy scenarios. It is important for you to know the benefits and risks and make informed decisions about your privacy.
For the purposes of this Web site, we define privacy as protecting your Personally Identifiable Information (PII). For example, PII can be your name, address, and/or phone number; also gender and/or birth date when used in combination with that information.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
Personal information such as your name, address, e-mail address, phone number, birth date, gender, etc. is known as PII. PII often is standard information collected to contact you or provide services, information and products that you have asked for. However, if your PII becomes available to the public, it can be used to send you marketing materials that you may not have asked for and do not want. In more serious cases, your name and address may confirm sensitive data about you that someone set on causing harm already has — perhaps the name they had was misspelled or the house number was wrong in the database where they already have your credit-card number from some other means.
Parents, high-profile executives, celebrities or victims of domestic violence or stalkers will want to take added precautions to shield their private details from online and offline snoops.
Sensitive PII is data that, when combined with any of your basic PII, can enable many services and benefits for you, but that also can cause serious harm in the wrong hands. Sensitive PII includes information such as your credit card, bank account number, government ID or social security number, for example.
Sensitive PII should be thought of as cash money, which you don't give away easily. If not protected, it could be used to falsify documents, commit fraud or spend your money unknowingly. For example, a thief can pretend to be you by using your card number over the phone to buy products from an unsuspecting company, and have them sent to a location where he is waiting to pick the products up, but can't be traced. In other words, sensitive PII can be used to steal your identity, also known as Identity Theft.
What is a cookie?
Cookies are small text files that are placed on a user's hard drive by the Web site that the user is visiting. This file records preferences and other data about your visit to that particular site, allowing a site
to "remember" you on your next visit. Cookies often are used for long-term data collection, such as storing your name, address and preferences, so you won't have to reenter this information each time
you visit a site.
- Cookies are just text files. They can't search your hard disk for information or trash your files. They only record information that you have submitted to Web sites.
- Some Web sites cannot be accessed unless your browser accepts cookies.
HTTP cookies, sometimes known as Web cookies or just cookies, are parcels of text sent by a server to a Web browser and then sent back unchanged by the browser each time it accesses that server. HTTP cookies are used for authenticating, tracking and maintaining specific information about users, such as site preferences and the contents of their electronic shopping carts. The term "cookie" is derived from "magic cookie," a well-known concept in Unix computing that inspired both the idea and the name of HTTP cookies.
Cookies have been of concern for Internet privacy, since they can be used for tracking browsing behavior. As a result, they have been
subject to legislation in various countries such as the United States and the European Union. Cookies also have been criticized because the identification of users they provide is not always accurate and because they potentially could be used for network attacks. Some alternatives to cookies exist, but each has its own drawbacks.
Cookies also are subject to a number of misconceptions, mostly based on the erroneous notion that they are computer programs. In fact, cookies are simple pieces of data unable to perform any operation by themselves. In particular, they are neither spyware nor viruses, despite the detection of cookies from certain sites by many anti-spyware products.
Most modern browsers allow users to decide whether to accept cookies, but rejection makes some Web sites unusable. For example, shopping baskets implemented using cookies do not work if cookies are rejected.
* Because Wikipedia is an online open-content collaborative encyclopedia, Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. Read the full Wikipedia disclaimer.
The Better Business Bureau® offers answers to some frequently asked questions about privacy.