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DoubleClick: We don't own consumer data

DoubleClick issued a statement Friday saying that it does not own data collected by its DART ad serving technology, so Google couldn't have its way with it following the proposed merger.

Following Google's announcement to buy DoubleClick for $3.1 billion, the search giant told the L.A. Times that it hopes to eventually merge the non-personally identifiable information from its own servers and those of the ad-serving giant DoubleClick. That way, Google would be able to better target ads to Web surfers, according to the search company.

Someone should tell Google it won't be able to do that.

DoubleClick issued a statement Friday saying that despite reports to the contrary, it does not own data collected by its DART ad serving technology, which is used by such major publishers as AOL and MTV. That information belongs to DoubleClick?s clients, it said. (CNET reported DoubleClick's policy that it does not own the data.)

"Any and all information collected by DoubleClick is, and will remain, the property of the company?s clients. Ownership rights, like the other terms of DoubleClick's client contracts, will be unaffected by any acquisition," according to DoubleClick.

"Further, Google would not be able to match its search data to the data collected by DoubleClick, as DoubleClick does not have the right to use its clients' data for such purposes. By contract, DoubleClick has only the limited rights to use data for its aggregate reporting and to disclose data, if so required, to government authorities."

Privacy advocates apparently aren't buying that argument. DoubleClick may not own the data, they say, but it stores the data about users' Web surfing behaviors on its servers. That in itself pushes the privacy envelope, critics say. A privacy complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission on Friday asks the trade commission to order DoubleClick to remove "user identified cookies and other persistent pseudonymic indentifiers from all corporate records."

Sounds like Google and DoubleClick need to talk.