Aggregate information: Information that may be collected by a Web site but is not personally identifiable (see definition below) to you. Includes demographic data, domain names, Internet provider addresses and Web site traffic.
Bot: Short for "robot," also known as a shopping agent, shopping bot, shopbot, etc. A program or Web site that searches several sites for information for the user, such as finding the lowest price on something you want to buy.
Cookies: A block of text placed on your computer's hard drive by a Web site you've visited. It is used to identify you the next time you access the site. It cannot identify an individual user unless the data is attached to personally identifiable information gathered in some other way, as on an online registration form.
Digital cash: Money that is "stored" on your computer as bits of data. You purchase digital cash using your computer and credit card or bank account. When you buy something from a Web site that accepts digital cash, the amount is automatically subtracted from your computer.
Opt-in policy: Gives you more control over the collection and dissemination of personal information. Under this option, a site will not gather or track information about the user unless you knowingly provide the information and consent to the site yourself.
Opt-out policy: Gives you the choice of blocking personally identifiable information from being used by a particular Web site or shared with third parties.
Personally identifiable information: Information that can be traced to an individual user, such as your name, postal address or e-mail address. Personal user preferences tracked by cookies are also personally identifiable when linked to other personally identifiable information provided by the user online.
Secure site (or server): Uses encryption technology or standards such as SSL (see next item) to protect confidential information, such as credit-card numbers.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): An industry-standard security protocol that transmits confidential information securely and privately over the Internet. SSL provides data privacy, data authentication and message privacy. By convention, Web addresses of pages that require an SSL connection start with "https:" instead of "http:".
Shopping cart: A service for online shoppers that allows you to keep a list of things you are thinking about buying, including a running tally of the total. When you're ready to buy (or "check out") you can discard some things, pay for them or hold items for a later visit.
Spam: Junk e-mail. Unsolicited, unwanted e-mail, usually sent by advertisers.
Truste: An independent, nonprofit privacy organization that sets voluntary guidelines for Web sites' privacy policies. Sites that adhere to established privacy principles and agree to comply with Truste's oversight and consumer resolution process are allowed to display the group's online seal, the "trustmark."
Sources: "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Shopping," Truste, Times research
Researched by NONA YATES / Los Angeles Times