Glossary

Ad Blocker Software placed on a user’s personal computer that prevents advertisements from being displayed on the Web. Benefits of an ad blocker include the ability of Web pages to load faster and the prevention of user tracking by ad networks.
Ad Network Companies that purchase and place banner advertisements on behalf of their clients.
Anonymizer A service that prevents Web sites from seeing a user’s Internet Protocol (IP) address. The service operates as an intermediary to protect the user’s identity.
Banner Ad Advertisement for a product or company that is placed on a Web page in order to sell site visitors a good or service. Clicking on a banner will take the visitor to a site to learn more about that product or service. They serve a similar purpose as a billboard or television commercial.
Clear GIF (Tracker GIF) A Web site or email graphic designed to monitor who is reading the Web page or email.
Code of Fair Information Practices Based on the following principles:

  • There must be no personal data record-keeping systems whose very existence is secret.
  • There must be a way for a user to find out what personal information has been recorded and how it is used.
  • There must be a way for a user to prevent a site or company from using personal information for any reason other than its original intent.
  • There must be a way for a user to correct or amend a record of identifiable information about the person.
  • Any entity creating, maintaining, using or disseminating records of identifiable personal data must assure the reliability of the data for their intended use and must take precautions to prevent misuses of the data.
    (Source: U.S. Dep’t. of Health, Education and Welfare, Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems, Records, Computers, and the Rights of Citizens viii (1973).)
Cookie A small text file that is placed on a user’s hard drive by the Web site that the user is visiting. This file records preferences and other data about your visit to that particular site. This is most evident when a user returns to a site and is greeted by name. Cookies are often used for long term data collection.
Cookie Buster Software that is designed to block the placement of cookies by ad networks and Web sites. This prevents companies from tracking a user’s activity.
Data Spill The result of a poorly designed form on a Web site. The information may leak to Web servers of other companies, perhaps an ad network or advertising agency.
Digital Certificate Using encryption technology, a document can be digitally stamped or certified as to its place of origin. A certification authority supports/legitimizes the certificates.
Digital Signature Digital certification or stamp that authenticates an individual’s signature is legitimate. This is done using encryption technology.
Dynamic IP Address An IP address that changes every time a user logs on, or dials-up, to a computer.
Encryption The scrambling of digital information so that it is unreadable to the average user. A computer must have “digital keys” to unscramble and read the information.
Encryption Software Often used as a security measure, this software scrambles data so that it is unreadable to interceptors without the appropriate information to read the data.
Ethernet A commonly used networking technology that links computers together. A very common method of networking computers in a local access network (LAN).
Ethernet Adapter Address The personal name of the Ethernet card in a user’s computer.
Firewall A hardware or software device that controls access to computers on a Local Area Network (LAN). It examines all traffic routed between the two networks – inbound and outbound – to see if it meets certain criteria. If it does it is routed between the networks, otherwise it is stopped. It can also manage public access to private networked resources such as host applications.
GUID Acronym for Globally Unique IDentifier. This unique code is used to identify a computer, user, file, etc., for tracking purposes.
Host Name Each computer is given a name. It typically includes the user name and the organizational owner of the computer. For example “kerry.privacyleadershipinitiative.org.”
IP Internet Protocol. The standards by which computers talk to each other over the Internet.
IP Address A number or series of numbers that identify a computer linked to the Internet. As a general rule, the IP address is written as four numbers separated by periods. For example: 12.24.36.48
Local Area Network (LAN) A computer network limited to the immediate area, usually the same building or floor of a building.
MAC address Acronym for Media Access Control. It is the unique Ethernet card ID number found in network computers. These addresses are necessary in local area network (LAN) computers in order for them to communicate. The addresses are unrelated to the Macintosh computer.
OPT-IN A user gives explicit permission for a company to use personal information for marketing purposes.
OPT-OUT A user prohibits a company from using personal information for marketing purposes.
P3P P3P. Acronym for Platform for Privacy Preferences Project. It is a proposed browser feature that would analyze privacy policies and allow a user to control what personal information is revealed to a particular site.
Packet Term for the small bundles of digital information passed between users and sites. Any given exchange could consist of many packets, all of which are sent on various paths to assigned destinations.
Packet Sniffer A software tool used to track the packets of information sent to and from a computer. Programmers generally use this tool.
Password A word, chosen by a user, to access a secured Web site or service.
PGP Acronym for Pretty Good Privacy (PGP Security) which is a widely used encryption software.
PII Acronym for Personally Identifiable Information. This refers to information such as name, mailing address, phone number or email address.
Ping A short message sent by a computer across a network to another computer confirming that the target computer is up and running. The target computer will send a ping back to confirm.
Privacy Statement Sometimes referred to as a privacy policy or privacy notice, a privacy statement is posted on an organization’s Web site to notify visitors of the types of information being collected and what will be done with the information.
Privacy Seal Program A program that certifies a site’s compliance with the standards of privacy protection. Only those sites that comply with the standards are able to note certification. For example, TRUSTe, BBBOnline and CPA WebTrust.
Proxy Server A proxy server is a system that caches items from other servers to speed up access. On the Web, a proxy first attempts to find data locally, and if it’s not there, fetches it from the remote server where the data resides permanently.
Query String The extended string of a URL after the standard Web site address. This data begins with a question mark and usually contains the search information requested by the user. The Web site uses this “string” to provide the requested information to the user.
Static IP Address An IP address that remains the same each time a user logs on or dials up a server.
Third Party Cookie A cookie that is placed by a party other than the user or the Web site being viewed. Typically advertising or marketing groups who are trying to gather data on general consumer use place these third party cookies.
Trace Route The course that a packet travels across the Internet from one computer to another.
Tracker GIF (Clear GIF) Electronic images, usually not visible to site visitors, that allow a Web site to count those who have visited that page or to access certain cookies.
URL Acronym for Universal Resource Locator. It is the address of an organization or individual on the World Wide Web. For example: www.w3privacy.com

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