10 Online Retailers Who Respect Your Privacy

The Good Guys

These days, it’s not enough for an online retailer to sell you merchandise – now it feels the need to gather intelligence on you while you’re there, and then follow you out of the virtual store to beg you to come back. Online retailers are among the many websites that gather their users’ personal data and track browsing habits for their own purposes, and most also make use of third-party tracking software that uses your browsing habits on one website to create targeted ads on another. When it comes to retail, that often takes the form of “retargeting” – a tracker on a retail site will set a cookie when you leave the site, and suddenly ads for that website will appear everywhere you go. (In some cases the ads will be product-specific – do a search for flash drives on the site, and suddenly you’ll see ads all over the Web encouraging you to go back to the website and buy some flash drives.) But every website, retail or otherwise, is different: Some have more consumer-friendly privacy policies than others, and some use third-party tracking software that does a better job of keeping user data anonymous and honoring opt-out requests. To keep them all straight, a new site, privacyscore.com, has devised a metric to rate hundreds of websites across the Web on 0-100 scale. Each website’s 0-100 score is divided into two components: The first half is comprised of the site’s own privacy policy, with a possible 50 points to be earned based on whether a site shares its users’ personal data, whether it notifies users if the government requests that data, whether user data is deleted as soon as a user deletes his or her account, and whether service providers who have access to that data are also required to keep it confidential. The other half of the equation concerns third-party trackers. Privacyscore rates each of the third-party tracking programs found on each site, then calculates its contribution to the final score based on how often each third-party tracker shows up on the site’s pages. Here are the major online retailers that attained the best scores based on privacyscore’s methodology. Photo Credit: Getty Images