Some of the data that can be discovered when a user visits the Dirt Bikes USA web site are as followed: web browser type, IP address, operating system and version, plug-ins installed in the browser, and the web site the user came from previously. These are just a few of the many items. Java and ActiveX can expose much more information, and Internet Explorer tends to expose more information than other browsers. A list of everything that a browser can expose would take more than 450 words in itself. Some of this information can provide value to the company for demographic reasons.
It would allow the company to determine which was the most prevalent browser used on the web site, and optimize the site for that browser. It would also allow the company to see where people were coming from, possibly setting up advertising opportunities. By tracking a user’s path through the website, it would be possible to discover possible design issues, and allow the site to be optimized for a better user experience. Privacy issues involved in collecting this type of data are more of a customer confidence issue than a legal issue.
Privacy issues are not as big a concern with cookies for the reason that they are controlled on the users end. They can choose not to accept cookies, or they can dump them at the end of each browser session if they so choose. At this point in the lifecycle of Dirt Bikes USA’s web site, it is not recommended to join an organization such as TRUSTe. The reason for this is that the website at this point is a minor operation and the added costs and maintenance do not provide a decent return for the company.
If Dirt Bikes USA decides to go have a web site that is more focused on e-commerce, it would be recommended to look at joining an organization like this more closely. As for trying to design the web site to conform to P3P standards, this is also not recommended. The entire issue of the P3P method of privacy enhancement is too controversial, and of limited benefit for the company to bother using it. When some of the main opponents of P3P are privacy centric organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), it does not bode well for this standard.