Web Firms Choose Profit Over Privacy

To parents interested in buying the popular Hooked on Phonics learn-to-read programs, the company made a firm promise on its Web site: It would never sell or rent their personal information to other marketers.

But that pledge was empty. In the pages of a marketing trade publication, Gateway Learning Corp., the product's California-based parent company, was advertising to rent the list of Hooked on Phonics buyers to other marketers.

At a price of $95 per 1,000 names, companies could arrange to have unsolicited advertising sent to 105,936 people who bought Hooked on Phonics in the past year. Included in the information made available to other marketers: ages of the buyers' children.

After inquiries from The Washington Post, the company changed its privacy policy and is no longer promising to keep such data from being offered to others. A company spokeswoman said the firm was simply slow to update its policy. Previous customers would be notified of the change and offered the chance to remove themselves from the list, she said.

View: Complete article at Washington Post

News source: Washington Post - TechNews

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