Deal With States Ends Investigation Into Consumer Data Collection

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CHICAGO ( -- DoubleClick reached an agreement with 10 state attorneys general today that ends an investigation into the company's use of consumers' personal data.

As part of the agreement, signed with the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Vermont and Washington, DoubleClick will pay $450,000 to help defray the cost of the probe, according to a company statement.

Not admitting wrongdoing
DoubleClick, although not

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admitting to any wrongdoing by signing the settlement, also agreed to follow specific requirements regarding data storage and usage, as well as disclosure. The requirements include: continuing to post a privacy policy disclosing the use of data; moving online customer data offline after a three-month period; not sharing data collected on behalf of one client with another client; and retaining an independent third-party organization to ensure DoubleClick is in compliance with the settlement, among other criteria.

The investigation into DoubleClick's data practices stemmed from the company's 1999 acquisition of offline direct marketer Abacus Direct, which created the potential for the merged company to combine customer information from online and offline databases to create consumer profiles.

Class action lawsuits
In March, DoubleClick agreed to settle several class action lawsuits stemming from publicity about its purchase of Abacus. The company paid $1.8 million in lawyers' fees and agreed not to combine offline personal data with Web data  without first giving consumers notice and an opportunity to opt in.

"DoubleClick is to be commended for its cooperation in setting an industry standard for promoting consumer privacy in the data collection and tracking taking place across networked Web sites," Eliot Spitzer, attorney general of New York, said in a statement.    

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