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e-Privacy Research: a New Disciplinary Borderland.
Unformatted Document Text:  * 4 1999). This ‘privacy law’, as she is called in short, brings the original Belgian law (of 8 December 1992) in conformity with the regulations of the European data protection directive (95/46/EC). A number of discrepancies between the original Belgian law and the directive, have obliged the Belgian legislator to revise the law and certain supplementary rights had to be given to the individuals among other changes to the national law. Besides the privacy law, there are other national laws and European directives regulating aspects of the protection of the informational and relational privacy. Here we narrow down the scope of this research to the application of the principles of the dataprotection directive, transposed in the national privacy law, in Belgian websites. We investigated how many and what kind of data are asked in on line forms (i.e. explicit dataprocessing), but also what types of cookies (i.e. implicit dataprocessing) are used (session cookies or persistent cookies, from the server of the website visited and possibly other servers). Secondly, we have analysed in how far the duties imposed by the law are respected in commercial websites. Actually we will look in what measure and how those rights, and the procedures to exercise them, and other information about the processing of personal data on the website, are dealt with in for instance a privacy statement. We did not only analyse how many websites are communicating the necessary information (i.e. quantitative analysis), but also how complete that information is and in what way it is communicated (i.e. qualitative analysis). Thirdly, we tried to check the commitment of the teams, of the websites collecting personal data, with the privacy pledge. By sending a mystery e-mail with a question concerning the use of personal data entrusted to the company, we wanted to check the speed of answer and the quality of that answer. In this research we will analyse the degree of respect for informational privacy. The relational privacy is herewith closely linked in the domain of the online direct marketing. For instance, if a company offers the possibility to the consumer not to let his data being processed for direct marketing, than in this concrete case the relational privacy of that consumer is also protected. Namely, he or she does not receive any e-mailings, eventually no telemarketing calls and direct mails from that firm. But we will also check if websites integrate an opt-out (i.e. a legal obligation) or opt-in (not yet a legal obligation in Belgium) when they are collecting e-mail addresses for marketing purposes. 2. Methodology: selection of websites All together about 250 websites have been analysed in detail with a standardised on line form testing 93 items. These items rest on the one hand on legislation and self-regulation, on advice from the Belgian Privacy Commission and on the other on a certain number of quality criteria that we found representative for a transparent and honest processing of personal data on websites (conf. Thomas, 2001; Walrave, 1999; Walrave, 2001b). An important and difficult aspect of the methodology consists in the selection of the websites to compose our sample. As there is no complete and reliable list of all commercial business-to-consumer websites from Belgian companies available, we had to start our experimental sampling off line. We consulted the official databank of Belgian businesses and made a list at random from the different NACE categories. The following step consisted to verify one by one if the selected businesses had really a website. More precisely, it had to be a website in at least one of the three national languages (i.e. Dutch, French, German) and/or English and aimed at a consumers' public. The pure business-to-business companies were not included

Authors: Walrave, Michel.
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1999). This ‘privacy law’, as she is called in short, brings the original Belgian law
(of 8 December 1992) in conformity with the regulations of the European data
protection directive (95/46/EC). A number of discrepancies between the original
Belgian law and the directive, have obliged the Belgian legislator to revise the
law and certain supplementary rights had to be given to the individuals among
other changes to the national law.
Besides the privacy law, there are other national laws and European directives
regulating aspects of the protection of the informational and relational privacy.
Here we narrow down the scope of this research to the application of the
principles of the dataprotection directive, transposed in the national privacy law,
in Belgian websites. We investigated how many and what kind of data are asked
in on line forms (i.e. explicit dataprocessing), but also what types of cookies (i.e.
implicit dataprocessing) are used (session cookies or persistent cookies, from the
server of the website visited and possibly other servers). Secondly, we have
analysed in how far the duties imposed by the law are respected in commercial
websites. Actually we will look in what measure and how those rights, and the
procedures to exercise them, and other information about the processing of
personal data on the website, are dealt with in for instance a privacy statement.
We did not only analyse how many websites are communicating the necessary
information (i.e. quantitative analysis), but also how complete that information is
and in what way it is communicated (i.e. qualitative analysis). Thirdly, we tried
to check the commitment of the teams, of the websites collecting personal data,
with the privacy pledge. By sending a mystery e-mail with a question concerning
the use of personal data entrusted to the company, we wanted to check the
speed of answer and the quality of that answer.
In this research we will analyse the degree of respect for informational privacy.
The relational privacy is herewith closely linked in the domain of the online direct
marketing. For instance, if a company offers the possibility to the consumer not
to let his data being processed for direct marketing, than in this concrete case
the relational privacy of that consumer is also protected. Namely, he or she does
not receive any e-mailings, eventually no telemarketing calls and direct mails
from that firm. But we will also check if websites integrate an opt-out (i.e. a legal
obligation) or opt-in (not yet a legal obligation in Belgium) when they are
collecting e-mail addresses for marketing purposes.
2. Methodology: selection of websites

All together about 250 websites have been analysed in detail with a standardised
on line form testing 93 items. These items rest on the one hand on legislation
and self-regulation, on advice from the Belgian Privacy Commission and on the
other on a certain number of quality criteria that we found representative for a
transparent and honest processing of personal data on websites (conf. Thomas,
2001; Walrave, 1999; Walrave, 2001b). An important and difficult aspect of the
methodology consists in the selection of the websites to compose our sample. As
there is no complete and reliable list of all commercial business-to-consumer
websites from Belgian companies available, we had to start our experimental
sampling off line. We consulted the official databank of Belgian businesses and
made a list at random from the different NACE categories. The following step
consisted to verify one by one if the selected businesses had really a website.
More precisely, it had to be a website in at least one of the three national
languages (i.e. Dutch, French, German) and/or English and aimed at a
consumers' public. The pure business-to-business companies were not included


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