Two New Web Privacy Tools Out

SAN FRANCISCO -- International Business Machines said on Wednesday it is releasing free software that will allow companies to automate their Internet privacy practices, while AT&T has free software to alert Web surfers to different privacy settings on websites.
The announcements come at a time when moves by the U.S. government and industry providing consumers greater protection of their personal information on the Internet have been rolled back in light of concerns over terrorism and national security.
"Privacy practices and policies in corporate America have been steadily getting worse over the last couple of years," said Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters, an independent privacy advocacy and consulting firm.
Just last week Yahoo (YHOO) followed in the steps of eBay (EBAY) and Amazon (AMZN) in changing its privacy policies to allow for greater use of the data, Catlett said.
Now, Yahoo can more easily send spam e-mail and make telemarketing calls while forcing customers to manually change their privacy preferences if they don't want that, he said.
Legal actions seem to be prompting somewhat better behavior. To settle federal and state class action lawsuits, Internet advertiser DoubleClick (DCLK) in March agreed to adhere to an enhanced privacy policy, as well as pay $1.8 million in legal fees.,1848,51553,00.html