People who surf the web offer up information about themselves as they go, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes without even knowing it. That personal information is then compiled, bought and sold, the authors of the report, lawyers Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy, say in the paper, entitled The Internet, Consumers and Privacy.
Alderman and Kennedy estimate that about 90 million Americans use the internet regularly, and much of the data collected on them is information they consider personal financial and personal medical data.
At the same time, there is a growing consensus that protecting web users' privacy is good business practice, particularly in light of a recent report to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stating that 92 per cent of Americans are concerned about the misuse of their personal information.
Alderman and Kennedy, authors of The Right To Privacy, are two of more than a dozen authors drafting papers for the Internet Policy Institute's "Briefing the President" project, which will seek to educate the next US president and other elected officials on internet policy issues.