January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Doubleclick Gives In, Changes Policy

Don Davis

Editor in Chief

Bowing to pressure from consumer advocacy groups, the Federal Trade Commission and government officials, DoubleClick announced that it would no longer place tracking cookies on consumers' computers without their permission. DoubleClick CEO Kevin O'Connor admitted in a statement on its Web site that he, "Made a mistake by planning to merge names with anonymous user activity across Web sites in the absence of government and industry privacy standards." The statement comes after weeks of controversy regarding DoubleClick's consumer tracking methods, which resulted in campaigns by two consumer privacy groups, investigations by the FTC and the state of New York, as well as a suit file by Michigan's attorney general.

"We commit today, we will not link personally identifiable information to anonymous user activity across Web sites," O'Connor says in the statement. DoubleClick's controversial tracking system placed "cookies" on users' computers when they clicked onto one of the 1,500 sites in the company's network. Information collected from the cookies is stored in a database and later used to personalize ads based on consumers' browsing and purchasing habits.

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