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THE CUTTING EDGE

User Data Leaked from Quicken Web Site

March 09, 2000|From Bloomberg News

Intuit Inc., the top personal-finance software maker, said Wednesday that consumer information from its Quicken.com loan Web site was leaked to its advertisers, though it has taken steps to stop the leaks.

Intuit said some financial information that was entered into its loan-calculation tools on the Quicken Web site was accidentally transmitted to DoubleClick Inc., the No. 1 Internet-advertising company. Using the site, users can enter the size of the loan they want and what terms they prefer, for instance.

The financial data wasn't associated with consumers' identities, Intuit said. Intuit removed all DoubleClick ads from its Quicken loan Web sites to fix the problem, the company said.

"It's almost inconceivable that anyone can do anything with this data," said Brooks Fisher, Intuit vice president of strategy. "But it is a leakage and it needs to be stopped."

The data leak stems from a computer programming problem that inadvertently directs information entered from a previous Web page to another Web site address. Any Web site that uses HTML, or hypertext markup language, can encounter this problem, Fisher said. HTML is a programming language used to create Web pages.

DoubleClick's technology wasn't involved with the problem, Intuit said.

"They don't have anything to do with this," Fisher said. "It has nothing to do with their technology." Fisher added that Intuit's agreement with DoubleClick prohibits the collection of data and use of any personal information.

DoubleClick has been hounded by privacy concerns in recent months. The New York-based company, which sells and delivers advertising to Web sites, disclosed last month that the Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether it engaged in unfair or deceptive practices in gathering information about Internet users.

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