Privacy laws in the United States are not very strong. Instead, companies and organizations have adopted self-regulating policies and procedures, as you’ll see later in this chapter. However, there are a few U.S. laws you should be aware of:
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
As the overseer of this act, the FTC evaluates whether the subject matter and content of your site suggests that your Web site is geared towards children. Such content can include the following:
The actual notice, which should be clearly understandable by children in the target market for your Web site, must contain the following information:
Electronic Communications Privacy Act
The ECPA was enacted in 1986 and prohibits unlawful access of electronic content, as well as disclosure of electronic content as it may apply to the privacy rights of individuals. The law covers a variety of wire and electronic communications services, which is defined by the law as “any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic, or photo optical system that affects interstate or foreign commerce.” In addition to discouraging unlawful access to electronic communications (think wiretaps), the law also prevents government agencies from requiring disclosure of electronic communications without following a protocol such as the gathering of search warrants, and so on. The newer Patriot Act of 2001 has superseded some aspects of this law.
The Patriot Act of 2001
The Patriot Act of 2001 has become a rallying cry among civil liberty groups involvedwith Web privacy, particularly the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The act is a rathermassive tome (300 plus pages) that was passed shortly after the events of September 11, 2001. Generally, however, this act shouldn’t affect your Web site development, unless you’re contracting with some foreign governments that may be considered friendly to terrorists or may be known to harbor them. If this is the case, you should review the documentation of the act, as well as the EFF’s take on the situation at the following URL:
Fair Credit Reporting Act
If you’ve ever obtained a credit card you’ve been impacted by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which requires that credit bureaus provide access to consumers’ credit reports and provides an opportunity to dispute them, which is where you come in. If a consumer disputes a blemish you’ve created on their credit report, you are required to respond to inquiries credit bureaus make on their behalf.
Privacy Legislation and Regulations in the EU
You may find that you are in compliance with laws in the United States, which really aren’t very strong in the privacy arena, but have run afoul of standards in the European Union.The European Union considers privacy a fundamental right, and has codified this general philosophy into law, whereas the political culture in the United States leans towards a general distrust of government that predates the Revolutionary War. Thus, the approach in the United States is largely hands-off, and is a combination of watered-down legislation, administrative regulation, and industry self-regulation.
The EU Directive on the Protection of Personal Data governs electronic communications as it pertains to information gathering and prohibits the transfer of data to any non-EU nation that doesn’t meet European privacy standards.
The EU directive requires that any personal information gathered from its Web site visitors comply with the following:
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Introducing The Web And Html
What Goes Into A Web Page?
Starting Your Web Page
Lines, Line Breaks, And Paragraphs
Page Layout With Tables
Introducing Cascading Style Sheets
Creating Style Rules
Padding, Margins, And Borders
Colors And Backgrounds
Tables Table Styles
Defining Pages For Printing
Dynamic Html With Css
Introduction To Server-side Scripting
Introduction To Database-driven Web Publishing
Creating A Weblog
Introduction To Xml
Xml Processing And Implementations
Testing And Validating Your Documents
Choosing A Service Provider
Uploading Your Site With Ftp
Publicizing Your Site And Building Your Audience
Maintaining Your Site
The Web Development Process
Developing And Structuring Content
Designing For Usability And Accessibility
Designing For An International Audience
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