Casual Web surfers risk compromising cyber-privacy: 'Consumer Reports'

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The ad network and ad-serving company DoubleClick is responsible for planting the most cookies on computer hard drives, giving advertisers access to Internet surfing behavior without users' knowledge or consent, according to a study of 28 sites by Consumer Reports. In "Big Browser is Watching You,'' featured in the May issue and online (www.consumerreports.org), the magazine tracked the placement of cookies, particularly those planted by online advertising networks. The magazine reports most sites did not want to take no for an answer when permission to install a cookie was denied. Overall, 20 of the 28 sites requested that a cookie be implanted from one ad network or another, with DoubleClick responsible for more than 80% of the attempts. The report says Lycos and Excite use what it calls a "particularly clandestine method'' for gathering data about site visitors on behalf of ad networks DoubleClick and MatchLogic, planting a code that monitors movements around the Web.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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