Dec 062009
 December 6, 2009  Posted by  Business, Featured News, Govt, Online, Surveillance, U.S.

Back in September, reported that had filed a complaint with the FTC about EchoMetrix, a developer of software for monitoring of online activity. As reported at the time, EPIC alleged that EchoMetrix analyzes the information collected from children and sells the data to third parties for marketing or intelligence purposes while claiming it protects children’s online privacy.

As a consequence of that complaint, the Department of Defense canceled its contract with Echometrix. reports:

Documents obtained by EPIC, pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, revealed the Defense Department canceled a contract with Echometrix, following an EPIC complaint to the Federal Trade Commission earlier this year. According to the documents obtained by EPIC, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service  [AAFES] pulled My Military Sentry, which collects data for marketing purposes, from its online store: “The collection of AAFES customer information (personal or otherwise) for any other purpose than to provide quality customer service is prohibited . . . . Giving our customers the ability to opt out does not address this issue.”

According to the documents obtained under FOIA, on October 14, Matthew McCoy, Manager of the Exchange Mall e-mailed EchoMetrix’s head of business development and retired Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Sullivan, founder of Leading Points Corporation, their marketing agent:

I was forwarded the attached complaint submitted to the FTC by EPIC. It is very unfortunate that you did not inform me of this issue. Our customers’ privacy and security is very important to us, and we trust our Mall Partners to maintain the security of our customers.

I have removed your site, and it will remain offline until this matter with EPIC and the FTC is resolved.

In a back-and-forth exchange of e-mails, EchoMetrix provided information on its policies and assured AAFES “Again there is no matter with the FTC to resolve.” Despite their confident assurance, on October 27, McCoy informed them that Sentry Parental Controls was removed from the Exchange Online Mall.

But while I was waiting for a response from EchoMetrix before posting this story, Jaikumar Vijayan of Computerworld beat me to the punch and has more on the story. You can read his coverage here.

Update: I just received this statement from EchoMetrix, which I am reproducing in its entirety. It’s the same statement Computerworld received:

Echometrix does not collect personally identifiable information or expose the source of any digital content. The company has never and will never collect, distribute or sell personal information as defined by COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).

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