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TheStreet Open House

10 Online Retailers Who Respect Your Privacy

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- These days, it's not enough for an online retailer to sell you merchandise -- now it feels the need to gather intelligence on you while you're there and follow you out of the virtual store to beg you to come back.

Online retailers are among the many Web sites that gather their users' personal data and track browsing habits for their own purposes, and most also make use of third-party tracking software that uses your browsing habits on one site to create targeted ads on another. When it comes to retail, that often takes the form of "retargeting" -- a tracker on a retail site will set a cookie when you leave and suddenly ads for it will appear everywhere you go. (In some cases the ads will be product-specific -- do a search for flash drives on the site, and suddenly you'll see ads all over the Web encouraging you to go back and buy some flash drives.)

A few e-commerce sites distinguish themselves as more respectful of your privacy.

But every Web site, retail or otherwise, is different: Some have more consumer-friendly privacy policies than others, and some use third-party tracking software that does a better job of keeping user data anonymous and honoring opt-out requests. To keep them all straight, the new privacyscore.com has devised a metric to rate hundreds of sites across the Web on 0-100 scale.

Each Web site's 0-100 score is divided into two components: The first half is for the site's own privacy policy, with a possible 50 points to be earned based on whether it shares its users' personal data, tells users if the government requests that data, deletes the data as soon as a user deletes his or her account and requires service providers with access to that data to keep it confidential. The other half of the equation concerns third-party trackers. Privacyscore rates each of the third-party tracking programs found on each site, then calculates their contribution to the final score based on how often each third-party tracker shows up on the site's pages.

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Read on for the top-scoring major online retailers based on privacyscore's methodology.

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