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FTC bars Epic Marketplace from sniffing through web users' history

The dirty side of online advertising
Thu Dec 06 2012, 13:35

THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (FTC) has barred online marketeer Epic Marketplace from rifling through web users' history to serve targeted adverts.

Epic Marketplace would put adverts in front of web users that were tailored based on looking through their web history, known in the business as online behavioural advertising. Now the firm has admitted FTC claims that it used "history sniffing" and was illegally gathering data and has been barred from repeating its actions.

The FTC claimed that the firm's software, which was used on more than 54,000 web domains, would track user behaviour outside the websites that belonged to Epic Marketplace's advertising clients, contrary to claims made in the firm's privacy policy.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz said, "Consumers searching the Internet shouldn't have to worry about whether someone is going to go sniffing through the sensitive, personal details of their browsing history without their knowledge. This type of unscrupulous behaviour undermines consumers' confidence, and we won't tolerate it."

As part of Epic Marketplace's settlement with the FTC, the firm must delete all data it had collected through its operations. The firm has been barred from misrepresenting the privacy or confidentiality of any data it has on a particular user. µ


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