Compete Inc. Settles FTC Privacy Charges

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The FTC recently announced that Compete Inc. has agreed to settle charges that it violated federal law by using its Web tracking software to collect extensive amounts of personal data without disclosing that fact to users.

"Boston, Massachusetts-based Compete Inc. agreed to obtain end users' consent before collecting future data on their browsing history, according to a release published on Monday by officials with the Federal Trade Commission," writes Ars Technica's Dan Goodin. "The company also agreed to delete or anonymize the consumer data it has already collected and to provide directions for removing tracking software installed on the computers of many of the people whose data was collected."

"The company tracks the browsing habits of people who download its software and then sells that data to clients so they can improve their website traffic and sales," explains The Register's Brid-Aine Parnell.

"The FTC said the company had incentivized consumers to download its Web-tracking software via the website consumerinput.com by offering cash rewards and gift cards, among other methods," writes The Hill's Jennifer Martinez. "The software collects data about the websites they visit and their activity online. The company then uses that data to compile reports for clients on how much traffic a website or search term gets, and provides other type of metrics."

"The problem was that the firm didn’t collect only information on browsing behavior," writes Softpedia's Eduard Kovacs. "The software installed on the customers' computers allowed them to silently record all the information entered by users on websites, including usernames, passwords, credit card details, security codes, social security numbers and more."

"As of last October, the FTC estimated that Compete collected data from more than four million consumers," writes SC Magazine's Danielle Walker.