FTC Closes DoubleClick Investigation

ByABC News

N E W   Y O R K, Jan. 23, 2001 -- The Federal Trade Commission on Monday ended its investigation into the data collection practices of DoubleClick Inc., the nation’s largest Internet advertising company.

The FTC began its investigation in February 2000, questioning whether DoubleClick improperly amassed personal information about Internet users.

In a letter to DoubleClick’s attorney, Christine A. Varney,trade commission official Joel Winston wrote: “DoubleClick neverused or disclosed” consumers personal identifying information“for purposes other than those disclosed in its privacy policy.”

Database Cause for Concern

The Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, aprivacy advocacy group, has accused DoubleClick of seeking to buildvirtual dossiers on consumers’ buying habits and identities afterassuring Web users that information collected about them wouldremain confidential.

The complaints against DoubleClick were sparked by the company’s$1.7 billion purchase last fall of direct marketing company Abacusand DoubleClick’s plans to cross-reference its records ofconsumers’ online habits with a Abacus database that includes namesand other identifying data. The company eventually scrapped thoseplans.

“DoubleClick remains committed to ensuring the highest level ofonline consumer privacy, both within our company and throughout theindustry,” Kevin Ryan, CEO of DoubleClick, said in a statement onMonday.

In order to improve privacy protection for consumers,DoubleClick promised the FTC that it would disclose and explain howit tracks Web users, that it would offer consumers the option ofnot having information about them collected online by DoubleClickand that it would clarify its privacy policy.

The New York-based DoubleClick electronically insertsadvertisements on behalf of online advertisers on more than 1,500Web sites.

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