RealTime IT News

NaviPath Acquires Lucent Privacy Technology

NaviPath Inc. this week announced it has acquired the technology of ProxyMate, a Web privacy technology service from Lucent Technologies New Ventures Group in return for an equity stake in the CMGI Inc. operating company.

The business deal enables NaviPath to broaden its NaviOne portfolio of private-label Internet access solutions. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

ProxyMate is based on underlying Lucent personalized Web assistant technology, developed by Bell Labs in 1997. The technology allows users to create aliases that protect their online identities on an opt-in basis.

By offering Internet service providers a seamless way to allow their subscribers to establish individual levels of Net privacy, the technology is a flexible solution for ISPs seeking to fulfill users privacy demands.

The technology was originally introduced at the Federal Trade Commission's Privacy Hearings in June 1997 and has been well received by consumer privacy advocates since ProxyMate services launched last year.

TC Browne, NaviPath chief executive officer, said more and more savvy Internet users are demanding privacy services when accessing the Internet for e-commerce and other personalized services.

"By incorporating the ProxyMate tools into our facilities-based network, our NaviOne Solution Suite enables our customers to provide unique privacy capabilities to their online subscribers that will enhance customer loyalty through a safe, non-intrusive online experience," Browne said.

Tom Uhlman, Lucent's New Ventures Group president, said the business division was pleased to be able to move its Bell Labs technology into the commercial domain through NaviPath.

"NaviPath offers customers an ideal set of solutions for using the Internet to improve their customer relationships, with the privacy tools being a great addition to the overall capabilities they provide," Uhlman said.

Several features differentiate ProxyMate from other privacy offerings, including creating alias information, auto-fill memory, spam filtering and e-mail forwarding.

Because the system operates on an opt-in basis, service providers can offer a flexible privacy portfolio to their subscriber base. Although Web advertisers may not be pleased with the technologies ability to fool or spoil demographic data gathering efforts, NaviPaths Brendon Howe, vice president of marketing, said ProxyMate was designed to please the end user, not advertisers.

"The users true identity is tied into a proxy server, so a person may be able to hide their real identity while Web surfing, but the ISP can always determine who the real user is, would there be any legal ramifications from the users online activities," Howe said.

"Its simply a way to control privacy," Howe added. "Whether using a random IP address to mask a train on an e-commerce Web site or an e-mail address for a complete alias, ProxyMate provides a flexible way for ISPs to deliver Net privacy services."

Jim Winkleman, NaviPath chief technical officer, said the acquisition of Lucents technology enables NaviPath to quickly add privacy management capabilities to its list of services for end users.

"Because our privacy platform will be deployed throughout our network, rather than in a centralized architecture like other privacy services, our end users will not only receive the privacy and convenience features of ProxyMate, but will also get the performance benefits of distributed caching," Winkleman said.

"And we'll continue to extend the platform with additional features such as cookie management and virus scanning," he added.

The NaviOne Solution Suite can be customized t