This book arises from the confluence of three recent trends, namely, the growth of the Internet and e-services, the growth of consumer awareness of their lack of privacy, and the spread of privacy legislation enacted by many jurisdictions. The first two trends in part dictate the need for the third trend, but as we will see, privacy legislation was not enacted solely for e-services and also involves non-electronic privacy. Let us examine each of these trends in more detail:
Growth of the Internet and E-Services. The Internet is growing by leaps and bounds as can be seen by the rapidly increasing amounts of information returned by search engines. The search problem faced by Internet users today is not the lack of information from searches, but how to make sense of the realms and realms of information generated by a search. In addition, the Internet is growing from the spread of computer technology in developing countries as well as the harnessing of the Internet for new applications such as healthcare. Accompanying the growth of the Internet has been the availability of a diverse number of e-services. Most consumers are familiar with online banking or online retailing (e.g. Amazon.com) via the Internet. Other Internet-based services such as e-learning (online courses), e-government (online government services such as tax information), and e-health (online medical advice and others) are becoming more common place as well.