IDG’s PC World Investigates Online Privacy, and Asks: In Web We Trust?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MAY 5, 2000 – In the year and a half since PC World published its award-winning special report "Privacy in the Internet Age" (www.pcworld.com/sep98/pcprivacy), e-commerce has exploded, doubling in volume each year. And as the Net becomes the medium many Americans use to get news, buy groceries, rent movies, obtain medical advice — and possibly vote for presidential candidates — what little personal privacy they once had may soon disappear. In the past six months, dozens of major Web sites have suffered theft of credit card information and acts of vandalism. But, what consumers may not know, the biggest threat to privacy today isn't crackers, stalkers or data brokers. It's the legitimate online businesses — such as advertising networks and retailers — that are creating detailed profiles of Web surfers.

In PC World's June 2000 special report, "Privacy 2000: In Web We Trust?" (online now at www.pcworld.com/jun00/trust and on newstands May 16) contributing editor Daniel Tynan investigates the status of privacy in the new millennium. From security flaws in e-commerce sites to the controversy over Web marketing company DoubleClick, this report identifies problem areas and consults with experts to offer suggestions to improve the situation.

For surfers who dislike being monitored, but don't want to give up the Internet, PC World editors offer practical tips on everything from controlling cookies to privatizing e-mail in the how-to article, "Privacy 2000: Stealth Surfing," (www.pcworld.com/jun00/privacy). For more information about the patchwork of existing national privacy laws, check out the debut edition of the "Privacy Watch" column on PCWorld.com (www.pcworld.com/consumer/smart).

Top of the News: The lead story is an analysis of two years' worth of PC World's tests of the top color ink jet printers, which reveals a big gap between rated speeds and real-life results. In addition, editors test out Windows Millennium Beta 3, the leaner and meaner Netscape 6 upgrade, Microsoft's new Pocket PCs, and online government forms. The editors even take the Sony PlayStation II out for a spin in an exclusive review of the much-ballyhooed game console.

The Buying Game: PC World's exclusive survey of 3,000 readers reveals the best and worst places to buy a PC — retail, Web or direct. Editors asked PC World subscribers, "Considering your overall buying experience with this PC, how satisfied are you with the seller?" Judging from their responses (on a scale from Very Satisfied to Very Dissatisfied), the happiest computer shoppers purchase products without leaving their home or office.

Above Average

Dell Web and phone

Gateway Web and phone

Gateway Country Retail

Micron Web and phone

Quantex Web and phone

Average

Circuit City Retail

Office Depot Retail

Below Average

Best Buy Retail

CompUSA Retail

Staples Retail

Companies are listed alphabetically in each tier

Home Wired Home: Home networks let people share files, a printer, and an Internet connection. But for a long time, high prices and installation difficulties dissuaded many from jumping aboard. At last, prices are falling — and it's getting easier. PC World tests five phone-line kits, one conventional wired ethernet kit, and one wireless system, awarding a "Best Buy" to Intel AnyPoint, praising it for: "Fastest, easiest setup of phone-line products; useful installation video, great manuals, extensive Web-based support."

Hammer Time! For businesses tired of waiting for customers to get the message and beat a path to their door, selling via Web auctions can be a lucrative strategy. Is it for everyone? PC World's handy guide walks through eight steps of business-to-consumer auctioning online.

PC World Communications, Inc. is the publisher of PC World (www.pcworld.com) and WebShopper (www.webshopper.com) and is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading IT media, research and exposition company. The winner of the 1999 and 2000 Grand Neal Award for editorial excellence, PC World is the world's largest computer publication with a circulation rate base of 1.25 million. With more than 1.4 million unique visitors per month (Media Metrix, March 2000), PCWorld.com is a leading online resource for PC-product buyers and users. IDG publishes more than 300 computer magazines and newspapers and 4,000 book titles in 80 countries and offers online users the largest network of technology-specific sites around the world through IDG.net (http://www.idg.net), which comprises more than 270 targeted Web sites in 70 countries. IDG is also a leading producer of 168 computer-related expositions in 35 countries, and research arm International Data Corporation (IDC) provides computer industry research and analysis through 50 offices in 43 countries worldwide. Company information is available at http://www.idg.com.