WEB PRIVACY II: DoubleClick Under Investigation by FTC, New York Officials
Adding more fuel to the fire surrounding internet privacy, the Federal Trade Commission and the New York State Attorney General's office have launched separate inquiries into the online advertising company DoubleClick's methods of compiling personal information about Internet users, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The announcement follows on the heels of a complaint filed with the FTC by the Washington, D.C.-based privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center. The group is accusing DoubleClick of amassing records on consumers' buying habits and personal information after assuring Web users that such information would remain confidential. Further compounding its problems, DoubleClick officials disclosed in this week's Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the company has been named in six additional privacy lawsuits. Jodie Bernstein, head of the FTC's Consumer Protection Bureau, said that the agency was focusing its investigation on whether DoubleClick "had engaged in unfair or deceptive practices" in violation of FTC regulations. According to a spokesperson for New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D), his investigation also was looking "into DoubleClick's business practices." In a statement Wednesday, DoubleClick CEO Kevin O'Connor said, "We are fully cooperating and we applaud the FTC's efforts to keep the Internet safe for consumers" (Kalish, 2/17). DoubleClick's information-gathering practices also were recently brought into question, particularly in relation to advertising on health Web sites, by the California HealthCare Foundation's study on Internet privacy policies released earlier this month.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.