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Lucy.com Strikes Back

Lucy.com, an online store that sells women's workout wear, issued a statement slamming recent media coverage of its privacy practices as "inaccurate, misleading and damaging to our reputation."

The company was referring to news stories that raised questions concerning its relationship with Coremetrics Inc., a data analysis ASP that says it offers a "comprehensive eMarketing platform."

Coremetrics says on its site that it "delivers insight on visitor browsing and purchasing behavior that you can actually use for your business-critical decisions." The company's "eLuminate" service launched last March.

Critics say Corremetrics can track personally identifiable information from unwary Web consumers.

lucy.com said it merely uses Coremetrics as a third-party service provider to gather and analyze information about how customers shop in its online store.

"We are taking this opportunity to set the record straight," said Sue Levin, CEO of lucy.com. "The reports claimed that we misuse data about our customers. This simply is not true. We do not rent or sell customer information, and we never will. In fact, we've taken every step to put our company at the forefront of privacy protection."

Levin said that lucy.com's privacy policy and practices have always been approved by privacy evaluation organization TRUSTe.

Some recent media reports about Coremetrics and its role claimed that Coremetrics was allegedly sharing confidential information from lucy.com and a few other Web sites with third parties. The reports were based on a press release from Interhack Corp., which issued a statement saying:

"Interhack Corporation's Internet Privacy Project has yielded shocking results that reveal how marketers' tracking of Internet users has moved well beyond "impersonal" data collection. We reveal how the Coremetrics system can build detailed dossiers of unsuspecting Web surfers that include names, physical addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and other personally-identifiable information."

Coremetrics defended itself in this statement.

"Coremetrics provides information gathered from the company's Web site exclusively to lucy.com, and is contractually prohibited from sharing this information with any other entity," lucy.com said in its statement today.

However, lucy.com said it collects two types of data in the normal course of its business: anonymous information and personally identifiable information. The company said it uses anonymous information to improve its ability to serve its customers. It uses personally identifiable information to offer products and services to customers who have willingly provided their data for that specific purpose.

lucy.com said it discontinued its use of the Coremetrics service for gathering personally identifiable information on Aug. 8. It will continue to use Coremetrics to gather and analyze anonymous data.

"Although our past use of Coremetrics has never compromised our customers' privacy, we felt it necessary to remove even the shadow of a doubt about our commitment to our customers' rights," said Kate Delhagen, vice president of business development at lucy.com.

But the Coremetrics controversy doesn't appear to be going away that easily. Last week Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach in San Diego, one of several law firms that sued toysrus.com, said Toys `R' Us has ended its contract with Coremetrics. Milberg Weiss's suit sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages on behalf of visitors to the