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Show of Good Faith

It's more important than ever to show customers you'll keep their information private.

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's getting hard for consumers to hide, as"spyware" programs invade personal computers and largeretailers such as Wal-Mart move toward Radio FrequencyIdentification (RFID) technology, a wireless "bar code"that lets retailers track inventory even after it's left thestore. Even paying in cash may not guarantee customers anonymitymuch longer: The European Union is adding RFID to the Euro. Ifsuccessful, RFID could be added to U.S. currency within a fewyears, making it possible to track money from the ATM to the cashregister.

Not surprisingly, consumers are wary. In a February 2003 HarrisInteractive survey of 1,010 adults, 54 percent felt that mostbusinesses don't handle customer information "in a properand confidential way," and some 53 percent said that existinglaws and business practices don't provide enough privacyprotection.

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