Fifth of websites 'lack privacy protection info'

August 13, 2013
This picture taken on July 26, 2013 shows a seafood vendor using an iPad at her stand in a market in downtown Hanoi. A fifth of the world's websites and mobile telephone applications provide no information on how, or if, they protect users' personal data, a French watchdog said Tuesday.

A fifth of the world's websites and mobile telephone applications provide no information on how, or if, they protect users' personal data, a French watchdog said Tuesday.

In collaboration with 19 other countries, France's national Cnil in May conducted an audit of more than 2,000 of the world's most popular websites and apps to evaluate how they inform users of their data collection practices.

"More than 20 percent of the websites and audited supply no information to their visitors in regard to their policies on data protection even though these sites or applications collect personal information. For mobile applications alone, this number even reached 50 percent," it said in a statement.

In cases when such policies are not communicated, users "do not have the means to control their data", Cnil said, adding that even when such policies are available, they are often too general or too focused on specific technical aspects such as cookies.

Internet services routinely install small bits of software, called "cookies", on users' computers to store identifying information and to track Internet behaviour.

All the authorities involved in the audit complained that essential information was often withheld, such as the purpose of the data collection or whether the information would be passed on to a third party.

They also pointed to the practice of "drowning" their policies on data protection in their general conditions statements.

In France, where Cnil said it had audited 250 websites, it found "99 percent of them collect data of private character".

Explore further: Calif. pledges better mobile privacy disclosures

Related Stories

Europe to move against Google over privacy rules

February 18, 2013

European data protection agencies intend to take action against the US Internet giant Google after it failed to follow their orders to comply with EU privacy laws, a French agency said on Monday.

France orders Google to hand over Street View data

July 31, 2012

France's data-protection authority said Tuesday it wants Google to hand over data secretly collected from Internet users by its Street View mapping cars which it failed to delete as promised.

Industry, advocates finalize mobile app guidelines (Update)

July 25, 2013

(AP)—A group of industry lobbyists and privacy rights advocates voiced support Thursday for new voluntary guidelines for mobile apps that should make it easier for American consumers to know what personal information is ...

Recommended for you

A not-quite-random walk demystifies the algorithm

December 15, 2017

The algorithm is having a cultural moment. Originally a math and computer science term, algorithms are now used to account for everything from military drone strikes and financial market forecasts to Google search results.

US faces moment of truth on 'net neutrality'

December 14, 2017

The acrimonious battle over "net neutrality" in America comes to a head Thursday with a US agency set to vote to roll back rules enacted two years earlier aimed at preventing a "two-speed" internet.

FCC votes along party lines to end 'net neutrality' (Update)

December 14, 2017

The Federal Communications Commission repealed the Obama-era "net neutrality" rules Thursday, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit ...

The wet road to fast and stable batteries

December 14, 2017

An international team of scientists—including several researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory—has discovered an anode battery material with superfast charging and stable operation ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.