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DoubleClick to settle US privacy lawsuits

Internet advertising agency DoubleClick on Friday announced that it has reached an agreement to settle all the federal and state class action privacy litigation against it. The terms of the agreement require the company to give consumers new privacy protections.02 Apr 2002

The settlement agreement will result in the dismissal of class action privacy lawsuits that were filed against DoubleClick from January 2000. The lawsuits, which were consolidated last year, alleged that DoubleClick violated state and federal laws by tracking and collecting consumers’ personal details and combining it with information on their web surfing habits.

There will be a hearing on 21st May in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York to address final court approval of the settlement agreement.

As part of the agreement, DoubleClick has agreed to adhere to the following practices and policies:

  • Clear Notice: The company's privacy policy will include easy-to-read explanations of its online ad serving services.
  • Enhanced Choice: If the company collects personally identifiable information, previously collected "clickstream" obtained by the company from across web sites can only be combined with the personally identifiable information after the provision of clear and conspicuous notice to the Internet user and receipt of the internet user's opt-in choice.
  • Consumer Education: The company will undertake a consumer education effort, which includes 300 million consumer privacy banner ads that invite consumers to learn more about how to protect their on-line privacy.
  • Consistency: The company will ensure that an internet user's on-line data will not be used in a manner materially inconsistent with the privacy policy under which it was collected, unless the consumer has given permission to do otherwise. The company will take steps to require that a successor to DoubleClick's business does not use internet users' on-line data in a manner inconsistent with the privacy policy under which that data was collected.
  • Purging of Data and Cookie Life: The company will institute internal policies to ensure the protection and routine purging of data collected online. The company will also purge on-line data it obtained during the course of testing the manner in which on-line and off-line data could be merged. The company has also agreed to limit to five years the life of new ad serving cookies.
  • Settlement Compliance: A nationally recognised independent accounting firm will conduct annual reviews for the next two years of DoubleClick's compliance with specified terms of the settlement, expanding on DoubleClick's current auditing program with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
  • Legal Fees: Legal fees and costs of up to $1.8 million will be paid by the company.

The term of the settlement is two years.