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    Wall Street Journal: Web Privacy Start-Ups Struggle

    The Wall Street Journal reports on new companies that focus on Internet privacy:

    The majority of Internet users remain unaware of how visible their Web behavior can be to marketers, identity thieves and others, say executives at Web-privacy companies. And those who are concerned about privacy are often reluctant to trust an unfamiliar company with their information, they say. […]

    Overall, the Web-privacy industry remains fractured, with many free and for-purchase products tackling a range of risks. More traditional computer-security companies like Symantec Corp. are also adding online-privacy tools, damping demand for stand-alone Web-privacy services, industry experts said. […]

    The hurdles facing this latest wave of Web-privacy start-ups—which aim to help people keep information about their identity, browsing activity and electronic correspondence out of the hands of marketers and other third-parties—echoes the challenge the industry has faced in the past. Earlier this decade, companies such as Privacy Inc., which provided dummy email addresses for online transactions, floundered after the dot-com bust. […]

    “People call for privacy, but they don’t act accordingly” because downloading software and tweaking privacy settings is inconvenient, said Carsten Casper, an analyst at research firm Gartner.

    In addition, many free privacy-protection tools and improvements to Internet browsers’ privacy features are making it more difficult for companies to make money peddling Web-privacy software, industry experts said. And some people just don’t trust giving their information to third-party start-ups, said IDC analyst Al Hilwa.

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