This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Media Unspun email newsletter and is Copyright 2002 by Keith Dawson.
M E D I A   U N S P U N
Yahoo Opts Into DoubleClick's Trouble

Late last week DoubleClick closed the Pandora's box of privacy-related lawsuits that had begun in 2000, and Yahoo opened a box of its own.

Doubleclick moved to settle all the state and federal class-action lawsuits outstanding against it. The suits arose from the advertising company's plan to merge its database of users' Web behavior with real-world, identifiable data about purchases at catalogs and stores.

Most outlets that noted the DoubleClick settlement ran the briefest of wire coverage. InternetNews turned in a more substantial piece, including interviews with some of the original plaintiffs who had sparked the class actions. InternetNews noted that the privacy policies DoubleClick is adopting as a condition of settlement will be among the most consumer-friendly anywhere. The Register's storied cynicism was in abeyance as its scribe characterized DoubleClick's pre-settlement behavior as "better than (that of) many (companies), and no worse than most in its late 90s laissez-faire attitude towards personal data." (A Slashdot reader helpfully pointed out that Slashdot's own advertising is served by Doubleclick.)

As DoubleClick's privacy debacle comes to a close, Yahoo has one that should have the company backtracking for some time to come. Yahoo is introducing changes to its privacy policy, and for some reason decided to reset the choices of all its users who had opted out of receiving marketing material. Users are invited to visit a page (if they can find it) and opt out of 14 categories of helpful information provided by Yahoo and its partners. Copious amounts of the stuff could begin arriving arrive by email, snail mail, and telephone, unless users opt out all over again.

In vain did Unspun scour the press in search of a kind word toward Yahoo. In their headlines, both and MSNBC referred to the potential Yahoo flood as "spam." Slashdot readers were predictably outraged. Several suggested that Yahoo users should reset their physical address and phone number to Yahoo's own, and let the flood commence. - Keith Dawson

DoubleClick agrees to settlement (Reuters)

DoubleClick Agrees to Settle Lawsuits Over Internet Privacy (Bloomberg)

DoubleClick Offers to Settle Privacy Suits,,12_1001031,00.html

DoubleClick squares privacy suit

DoubleClick Settles Privacy Lawsuit

Yahoo users fume over "spam" switch

Yahoo! sneaks in yet more spam

Yahoo Knows Best, Resets Users' Marketing Prefs