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Wall Street Journal 'simplifies' user data policy

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It's been a few short months since Murdoch rag-for-suits the Wall Street Journal perplexed the world by releasing a flawed whistle-blower website for people wanting to leak tasty secrets to the newspaper.

Now the WSJ has tweaked its privacy policy and switched on creepy browser-tracking by default.

It brazenly confirmed yesterday: "The Wall Street Journal revised its website privacy policy on Tuesday [27 September] to allow the site to connect personally identifiable information with web-browsing data without user consent."

Until this change, the paper had stated "it would obtain 'express affirmative consent' to combine personal data with 'click stream information' culled from the website."

But that's a thing of the past. It will now slurp up that information without prior consent from any visitor to the site.

Like other companies that don hard hats to mine such data online, the paper – which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp – claimed that the rejig to its privacy policy would mean it could more readily "customise" its service for its readers.

“It is not being applied retrospectively and only applies going forward to new registered users and subscribers,” said the organ's digital network boss Alisa Bowen.

The paper then appeared to swallow the kind of jargon adopted by various social networks and other web companies that trade in user data by claiming that the tweak "simplified" its privacy policies across its network that includes WSJ.com, Barrons.com and AllthingsD.com.

WSJ's own report on the changes cheerily noted that the new policy "contains expanded disclosures of online tracking techniques and contains links to opt-outs from third party tracking networks. It also adds a disclosure that it collects mobile device IDs."

Apparently, the company plans to only share such mobile identifier data with outfits that make cash from the "internal analytics" market.

On top of that, the Journal will continue to sell its print subscriber list while keeping the online version private - at least for now.

Bowen added that the whole thing “allows us to be consistent with how we handle privacy across our network of sites, it makes our policy easier to understand and use, and it ensures our practices are consistent with the way we are evolving to better meet the needs of our users".

So that's alright, then! ®

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