October 2, 2002 11:24 AM PDT
Search firm caves in to privacy pressure
The Internet search provider, based in Oslo, Norway, responded to a complaint filed with the Norwegian government in late September by Public Information Research (PIR), a consumer advocacy group. The complaint charged AlltheWeb with failing to notify visitors that it uses tiny electronic tags to monitor search queries and share the data with third parties, in violation of Norwegian laws.
With the move, AlltheWeb joins a slew of U.S. Internet companies that have begun to notify consumers about electronic tracking in detailed privacy policies, but only after feeling heat from privacy watchdogs. Two years ago, DoubleClick itself sat at the center of a privacy storm over digital tracking which involved a federal investigation that has since been resolved.
At the core of many online privacy concerns is the fear that companies can link surfing behavior with personally identifiable information such as names and addresses. The complaint filed against AlltheWeb charged that the search queries of visitors could ultimately be linked with cookies set by DoubleClick, which could contain more personal information such as location data.
"In addition to the personally identifiable information that Lycos actively collects when you register, we also collect anonymous information passively using cookies and Web beacons," reads the policy.