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Trade Commission begins online privacy workshop

June 10, 1997
Web posted at: 10:51 a.m. EDT (1451 GMT)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Federal Trade Commission begins a four-day workshop Tuesday on Internet privacy to address concerns that Web sites are gathering personal information on users without their knowledge or consent.

In advance of the workshop, the Electronic Privacy Information Center released a report saying that about half of the World Wide Web's most popular sites collect personal information in some manner. The report was timed to underscore privacy advocates' growing concerns that computer users need more protection.

Tuesday's session focuses on computer databases. In conjunction with the workshop, eight database companies were preparing to announce that they would limit the information they gather and make available to their clients.

The companies agreed to limit the distribution of private information, such as Social Security numbers, to government agencies and other groups that they deem to have a legitimate need for the data, industry representatives told The Washington Post.

The companies also agreed not to augment their databases with information from private marketing databases, the newspaper reported in Tuesday's editions.

The companies involved in the initiative were Lexis-Nexis, CDB Infotek, Database Technology, Experian, First Data InfoSource/Donnelley Marketing, Information America, IRSC and Metromail.

FTC sessions later this week will cover consumer online privacy, unsolicited commercial mail and children's online privacy.

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