Epic Marketplace and the Federal Trade Commission reached an agreement over the agency’s charges that the company used “history sniffing” technology to illegally gather data from millions of consumers.
Data on sensitive financial and health issues like fertility, disability insurance, incontinence, debt relief, menopause, credit repair, and bankruptcy was collected, according to the agency, and Epic used the information to categorize consumers based on their site visits. Consumer “interest segments” were created with topics like “incontinence,” and those within the segments were then served targeted ads.
Under the terms of the proposed consent agreement, Epic is banned from future use of such technology and must destroy any information gathered unlawfully. Future misrepresentations about data privacy and confidentiality are also prohibited. Epic did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.
To read the complaint and the proposed consent agreement, click here.
Why it matters: “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,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a news release. “This type of unscrupulous behavior undermines consumers’ confidence, and we won’t tolerate it.”