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Response Patterns in Computer-Administered Surveys
Unformatted Document Text:  Computer Administered Surveys 6 personalized start page at Yahoo! requires signing up for the service and providing personal information to Yahoo!. However, it is not only personal identification information that is being culled. Visitors to the web site for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (known as ONDCP in its advertisements) have cookies (bits of code placed on a user’s computer that potentially track Internet usage and store information) placed on their computers informing ONDCP where the user has traveled, reporting back occurrences of drug-related Internet searches, regardless of the purpose of the search (Sterling, 2000). However, personal information tracking can also be a problem for certain users. Henderson (2000) notes an Internet medical company that tracks movement within its own website, information that could possibly be sold to advertisers, or, possibly, to companies doing background checks. On the more positive side, some Internet sites do provide disclaimers, warning users about possible privacy concerns. However, even when users do read the privacy policies or agreements, the statements may be changed without the user’s knowledge, as Amazon.Com’s users found out (Walsh, 2000). In addition, Internet companies can merely write off the tracking of Internet users by admitting they have made a “mistake.” Real Networks, one of the largest providers for Internet music, video, and other multimedia, underwent examination for this so-called “mistake” in late 1999 (DeLoughry, 1999). This “mistake” actually has a name: screen scraping. Privacy statements which contain such platitudes as “you expressly understand…that your use of the service…is at your sole risk” (Bennett, 2000) are employed to cover possible privacy issues, and then the Internet company is free to use a third party to gather information. This third party has often signed an agreement with the original site as well, allowing them to use any information they gather for

Authors: Roseman, Joshua. and Mitrook, Michael.
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background image
Computer Administered Surveys
6
personalized start page at Yahoo! requires signing up for the service and providing personal
information to Yahoo!.
However, it is not only personal identification information that is being culled.
Visitors to the web site for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (known
as ONDCP in its advertisements) have cookies (bits of code placed on a user’s computer that
potentially track Internet usage and store information) placed on their computers informing
ONDCP where the user has traveled, reporting back occurrences of drug-related Internet
searches, regardless of the purpose of the search (Sterling, 2000). However, personal
information tracking can also be a problem for certain users. Henderson (2000) notes an
Internet medical company that tracks movement within its own website, information that
could possibly be sold to advertisers, or, possibly, to companies doing background checks.
On the more positive side, some Internet sites do provide disclaimers, warning users
about possible privacy concerns. However, even when users do read the privacy policies or
agreements, the statements may be changed without the user’s knowledge, as Amazon.Com’s
users found out (Walsh, 2000). In addition, Internet companies can merely write off the
tracking of Internet users by admitting they have made a “mistake.” Real Networks, one of
the largest providers for Internet music, video, and other multimedia, underwent examination
for this so-called “mistake” in late 1999 (DeLoughry, 1999).
This “mistake” actually has a name: screen scraping. Privacy statements which
contain such platitudes as “you expressly understand…that your use of the service…is at your
sole risk” (Bennett, 2000) are employed to cover possible privacy issues, and then the Internet
company is free to use a third party to gather information. This third party has often signed an
agreement with the original site as well, allowing them to use any information they gather for


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