EarthLink's new policy will allow it to match information provided by its subscribers with more detailed information furnished by "major credit organizations," the company said. EarthLink will now collect information such as age, gender, education and marital status, on top of personal information such as name, address and credit card number.
By registering on a separate Web site, customers can choose not to have their information collected. EarthLink said it would not sell the information to third parties, nor will it share names and addresses.
Les Seagraves, EarthLink's chief privacy officer, said the changes were implemented so the company has "some idea about our customers and what types of products and services they would be interested in. We don't know a lot about our customers at this point," he said.
In addition, EarthLink has launched a Web page that consolidates all of its marketing preferences options. The ISP requires people to manually opt out of being contacted via e-mail and phone regarding products and services. The preferences do not change the opt-out requirement, but instead can be found in one location.
EarthLink doesn't sell customer e-mail addresses to third parties. However, it sends e-mail to its subscribers that contains product promotions from marketing partners.