*Human Rights Groups Join Privacy Battle Against Doubleclick, Alta Vista Changes Privacy Policy

Two leading human rights organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union, Washington, D.C., and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation., New York, joined with the Center for Democracy and Technology, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Consumer Action yesterday in the ongoing privacy battle against Internet advertising services network, Doubleclick, NY.

The groups issued a joint press release saying that a Statement of Additional Facts and Grounds for Relief had been filed with the Federal Trade Commission demanding, what they termed, an “immediate action to prevent harm to consumer privacy as a result of DoubleClick's Abacus Online Alliance.”

Steven Spurgeon, communication director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said it was especially imperative that the online community respect the privacy of users in relation to sexual orientation but noted that Doubleclick’s privacy policies do not address gender identity issues in marketing

“We are very concerned about Doubleclick’s privacy policy and collection practices because there is a potential for gathering and either intentionally, or unintentionally misusing data which could result in the untimely disclosure of sexual orientation or the health status of unsuspecting people who are surfing the Web.”

Doubleclick has come under increased criticism in recent weeks following reports by consumer advocacy groups and online security experts that Web sites have begun taking registrations with plans to marry online user’s clicking behavior with data from Doubleclick’s recently acquired Abacus Direct co-op database.

Marketers routinely refer to Abacus Direct consumer data records to predict the buying behavior of some 88 million U.S. households.

The group’s filing with the FTC requests that the Commission enjoin DoubleClick from tying individuals' names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mails to information collected through DoubleClick's cookies, and prohibit Web sites from registering their subscribers or visitors in the Abacus Online database without their affirmative consent.

In a related development, Alta Vista, Palo Alto, CA, which accounts for about 20 percent of DoubleClick’s revenues said yesterday it would change its policies and no longer release personal information about customers unless they are explicitly given permission.

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