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

toysrus.com site. A Toys
`R’ Us spokeswoman reportedly declined to say if the company had in fact
terminated the CoreMetrics contract.

The suit filed by Milberg Weiss alleged Toys ‘R’ Us falsely stated on its Web
sites that it keeps customer’s information “completely confidential,” that
Toys R Us’s Web sites are “100% safe and secure,” and that Toys R Us does
“not share any personally identifying data about our guests.” Milberg Weiss
alleged that Toys ‘R’ Us implemented a “sophisticated and covert scheme to
secretly track its customers and to disclose their shopping habits and
purchasing information to Coremetrics.”

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