Criteria for the Web Site Privacy Report

When the California HealthCare Foundation in Oakland decided to evaluate privacy policies and practices on the Internet, it focused on 21 sites:

- altavista.com

- cansearch.com

- cvs.com

- drkoop.com

- drugstore.com

- excite.com

- healthcentral.com

- hivinsite.ucsf.edu

- intelihealth.com

- ivillage.com

- mayohealth.org

- mediconsult.com

- medscape.com

- mhnet.org

- mothernature.com

- oncolink.com

- onhealth.com

- planetrx.com

- thebody.com

- webmd.com

- yahoo.com

These sites were selected to represent a mix of the most visited consumer health sites where consumer desire for anonymity might be more precious, where pharmaceuticals and health products may be researched and purchased, and general search engines or portals get a high degree of Internet traffic, as well as sites that target a specific demographic.

Of the 21 Web sites:

- 16 were for-profit

- 15 used advertisements

- 11 had third-party networks

- 18 used cookies

- 19 had a privacy policy

In their research, the investigators found this breakdown of information collection points:

- chat rooms/bulletin boards — 14

- drug interactions/searches — 12

- electronic newsletter — 16

- e-mail article to colleague/friend — 8

- free materials — 6

- health assessment — 14

- medical consultation — 15

- medical history/friend — 6

- product sales — 15

- registration — 16

- search strings — 21

- surveys/polls — 13

The report also gives data for each individual Web site. To access this information, go to the foundation’s Web site at http://ehealth.chcf.org.