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FTC Smacks Down Ad Tracker for History-Sniffing Cookies

Online ad tracker Epic Marketplace has settled Federal Trade
Commission charges that it secretly and illegally gathered info from millions
of consumers about their interest in medical and financial issues from
incontinence to bankruptcy.

prevents the company from using Web history "sniffing"
technology to ferret out browser histories for ad-targeting purposes.

"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," said FTC chairman
Jon Leibowitz Wednesday in announcing the settlement. "This type of
unscrupulous behavior undermines consumers' confidence, and we won't tolerate

Epic placed cookies that tracked browser histories and
collected the data from visits to some 45,000 websites.

According to the FTC, the practice was illegally deceptive
because the company misrepresented the privacy and confidentiality of data.
Epic will have to delete all data it collected using the history-sniffing

The vote to approve the settlement was 5-0.