Keeping the Cat in the Bag: Internet Privacy

Dot-com companies engaged in e-commerce have an unparalleled opportuinty to obtain personal information from their website users — a marketer’s dream. However, the use of this information is not limitless. The law of privacy applies to all transactions in information, including those on the Internet. If you have Internet access and are involved in e-commerce, you should be aware of the privacy implications each time you collect, use or provide user information.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends that websites display clear privacy policies covering:

  • manner of collection
  • use and disclosure of user information
  • permitted third party use
  • user information change
  • user password control
  • security measures against unauthorized access

As for safeguards against unauthorized interceptions, none of the technological solutions are fail-safe. Under The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the intentional interception of any electronic communication is illegal and a successful plaintiff can obtain equitable relief, compensatory and punitive damages and attorney’s fees. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits unauthorized actions taken against computer systems that constitute privacy invasions and outlaws attempts to obtain prohibited information.

Susan Rayne, Esq. is a technology and intellectual property law specialist and frequent speaker on technology issues, practicing with Bowditch & Dewey, LLP, Worcester, MA. Attorney Rayne can be reached at 508-926-3428.