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(June 26, 2001) -- The Center for Digital Democracy today is warning that interactive TV poses major threats to consumers.

The center said the technology will let marketers "harvest" data profiles containing information on consumers' viewing and spending habits and produce ads aimed at individuals.

"The model [companies in the field] are following combines the worst aspects of the Internet and mass media," the consumer group said in a report released today. "We believe that ITV data collection practices represent a new threat to personal privacy in America."

The report also suggests interactive TV will lead into a data-mining "wilderness" and "large amounts of information about customers will be collected and used without their knowledge."

The center is calling on the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and Congress to hold hearings on the data collection and ad practices of companies in the field.

Ben Isaacson, executive director of Association for Interactive Media, called the report "mostly fictitious," saying some of the feared actions are already against the law and others are technically and financially impractical.

Mr. Isaacson said one-on-one advertising is impractical and that advertisers wouldn't do things to rile consumers. -- Ira Teinowitz

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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