SAN FRANCISCO (02/03/2000) - DoubleClick's information-gathering methods were cited among the privacy lapses reported by the California HealthCare Foundation. And to make things even harder for DoubleClick's PR crew, the privacy group Center for Democracy and Technology has launched a campaign against the Internet ad-placement company. As CNET reported, the CDT moved in response to DoubleClick's new plan to tie records of Web surfers' online behavior to their actual identities. The new consumer profile database would "include each user's name and address; retail, catalog and online purchase history; and demographic data," CNET's Evan Hansen wrote.
While DoubleClick said it would exclude information about health, sex and money, critics were still alarmed. Reuters reported that "[The CDT] said the plan went too far and created a massive surveillance database that could later be accessed by the government, other companies and even parties to civil lawsuits."
Reuters repeated DoubleClick's assertion that only people who provided personal data to one of the 1,500 Web sites participating in the new program would be tracked by name. But, as the story said, "[O]nce such tracking started, movements would be recorded at all the 1,500 Web sites that carry DoubleClick ads and provide tracking data."
Hansen wrote that the CDT is urging people to e-mail DoubleClick's CEO and 60 of the company's clients, including AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, AuctionWatch, Blue Mountain Arts, Drkoop.com, Hewlett-Packard, Kozmo.com, Network Solutions and the New York Times. The same story cited comments by Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to the effect that other trade groups plan to file a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission alleging that DoubleClick's system of tracking and identifying is illegal.