Engage acts on privacy concern

New Media is edited by Robert Dwek, dwek@journalist.co.uk

Online ad specialist Engage has appointed a data protection and privacy manager in response to recent concerns from consumer groups. Sally Annereau joins from Channel 4, where she was a compliance officer. Before that she was at lifestyle data firm Claritas. A self-professed “techno-enthusiast”, Annereau is happy to quit TV land and return to a direct marketing environment.

But her appointment has not been accompanied by any U-turns in Engage’s policy of tracking online consumers through “cookies” placed on their computers. Their use led to criticism this year of Engage and its sister company DoubleClick.

Yahoo! was dragged into the fray and has since been asked by the US Federal Trade Commission to clarify its position on consumer privacy.

Engage continues to maintain that by tracking online consumers while letting them remain anonymous, its operations present no threat to personal privacy.

But Annerau’s appointment reflects the very different EU and US cultures – with the EU preferring legislation over self-regulation.

“I will be working closely with Engage clients to ensure that they are on top of the privacy issues,” says Annereau. “At the end of the day it’s to do with ensuring that individuals have trust in you, which is gained through awareness and understanding. Our commitment to privacy has been fundamental to our policy since the start [1994].”

Clients include ITN, EMAP, Haymarket, IPC and BT’s Yell.com.

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