FTC settles with snooping advertising outfit

While the Land of the Free is happy to throw the book at people with a conscience who publish secrets about the government, it seems less happy to jail those who are involved with deceptive advertising scams.

The Federal Trade Commission announced that it has has reached a settlement with online ad network Chitika over charges that the company engaged in deceptive practices.

Chitika appeared to be jolly good about opting-out of online behavioural tracking. All you had to do was press a button. What Chitika failed to tell people was that the opt out only lasted 10 days. The outfit had placed cookies in the computer that re-activated themselves after then.

It spied on punters like this for nearly two years.

Under the settlement announced today, Chitika is banned from making misleading statements about its data collection processes.

Now it has to promise to let people opt out for five years, and must destroy all the information that it has already collected.

There is no mention of a fine which shows how differently companies are treated from private individuals.

If you promised someone you would not spy on them and then collected details on their movements for two years a court would put you away.

If the Chitika model is followed all you have to do is promise not to do it for five years and start all over again.