The USA Today Reports
DoubleClick Inc., the Internet\'s largest advertising company, has begun tracking Web users by name and address as they move from one Web site to the next, USATODAY.com has learned.
The practice, known as profiling, gives marketers the ability to know the household, and in many cases the precise identity, of the person visiting any one of the 11,500 sites that use DoubleClick\'s ad-tracking \"cookies.\"
What made such profiling possible was DoubleClick\'s purchase in June of Abacus Direct Corp., a direct-marketing services company that maintains a database of names, addresses, telephone numbers and retail purchasing habits of 90% of American households
Company spokeswoman Jennifer Blum said Tuesday that only about a dozen sites are participating now. But she acknowledged that DoubleClick would like all its partner sites to participate.
DoubleClick defends the practice, insisting that it allows better targeting of online ads -- and thus makes consumers\' online experiences at once more relevant and more profitable for advertisers. The company calls it \"personalization.\"
Consumer advocates have another term for it: privacy invasion.
After being informed of DoubleClick\'s actions, several privacy activists said they would file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission next month.