DoubleClick reveals privacy initiative

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DoubleClick Monday unveiled its Internet Privacy Education Campaign, designed to help consumers understand how to opt out of having information collected online. The ad network, whose profiling practices have been the target of privacy advocates' scrutiny, is sponsoring 50 million banner ads to kick off the campaign, which will run about two months. The banners will promote and send consumers to the company's new Privacy Choices Web site, which details the opt out concept and gives consumers the chance to choose not to receive a DoubleClick cookie. As part of its campaign, DoubleClick President Kevin Ryan said the company only will do business with sites that have posted privacy policies telling consumers what the companies do with consumers' information. PricewaterhouseCoopers will audit DoubleClick's practices. In addition, DoubleClick is establishing a Consumer Privacy Advisory Board and plans to hire a chief privacy officer, a new position. Consumer groups responded to DoubleClick's announcement with a warning: "The critical issue is what will be the future ad model for the Internet,'' said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. DoubleClick "is trying to convince Internet users that is one based on advertisers' knowing a consumer's preferences. . . .It is an extraordinary threat to personal privacy,'' he said. Richard Smith, a privacy technology expert, said his checks of sites show DoubleClick either purposely or accidentally is getting a tremendous amount of transaction information containing consumers' addresses.

Copyright February 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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