The Council of Better Business Bureaus' BBBOnline subsidiary, which will soon be awarding seals of approval for electronic commerce businesses' on-line privacy policies, has issued a general call for postings of privacy-protection statements on Web sites.

BBBOnline was joined in the statement this month by more than two dozen of its sponsor companies, which include American Express Co., AT&T Corp., BankAmerica Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., International Business Machines Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Sony Electronics.

The group is among the sponsors of a "Web sweep" study in March to assess the extent of on-line privacy policies, following up on a Federal Trade Commission study last year.

"The first study helped focus attention on the importance of respecting consumer privacy in cyberspace," said Russell Bodoff, senior vice president and chief operating officer of BBBOnline. The organization "encourages all Web sites that collect information to post privacy policies and apply for a BBBOnline Privacy Seal," an evaluation program it calls "the most rigorous on the Web."

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