UPDATE: FTC Drops Investigation of DoubleClickThe Federal Trade Commission ended its investigation into the data practices of online advertising firm DoubleClick Inc., much to the chagrin of privacy advocates.
The investigation began in February last year to determine whether DoubleClick, New York, merged its offline consumer data with its anonymous online consumer data.
Although DoubleClick had planned to merge the data when it acquired Abacus Direct in 1999, privacy concerns and a lack of industry standards forced it to refrain from doing so.
According to a DoubleClick spokeswoman, the firm already started drafting the changes and planned to have them in place by late February or early March.
Even so, at least one privacy advocate said DoubleClick got off easy.
"The FTC always concentrates on deception rather than unfairness, and they found that DoubleClick's practices had not been deceptive, but they're still objectionable from a privacy point of view," said Jason Catlett, president of privacy group Junkbusters, Green Brook, NJ.
Also, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Washington, which filed the initial complaint along with the FTC, was reported to be disappointed by the termination of the investigation.
"The FTC decided to lighten their caseload, and DoubleClick got a letter that can be paraded to investors and judges to try to convince them that they're not such bad guys after all," Catlett said.
DoubleClick is still being investigated by officials in Michigan and New York, which began their probes in February last year.