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Consumer groups launch net privacy guide

But it's the Yanks who get the good deal, again

A group of US consumer privacy groups launched an online guide for protecting security and privacy on the internet this week, hoping to reach consumers making purchases online as the busy holiday shopping season comes to a close. But for us Brits, there's no home-grown version.

The website, ConsumerPrivacyGuide, offers tips on how to read and understand the privacy policies of online retailers and other websites that collect information about visitors.

It also offers how-to guides for getting rid of cookies, the small files that websites leave on a user's hard drive to track preferences and other information about that visitor the next time they return to the site.

But as yet there are no UK sites specifically dedicated to privacy and internet security. The Data Protection Commission said it was concentrating its efforts on improving internet privacy and said an internet site may be a route to this.

The Consumers Association also said it was not aware of any such site for UK consumers and again said it was something it "is looking into".

"We have been concentrating on individual retailers, rather than a universal site," said the Consumers Association's online buying adviser Garreth Hayden. "Pushing retailers to display their privacy and security policies in a prominent position on their sites."

The Consumers Association said security information for online shoppers was available on its site at www.which.net.

The site is co-sponsored by five US consumer groups: the Center for Democracy and Technology, the National Consumers League, Consumer Action, Common Cause, Call for Action and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. The online guide pulls information and other resources from each of the groups.

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