Intuit sued over alleged privacy abuse

Personal information was sent to ad broker DoubleClick in error

Personal finance software vendor Intuit is being sued by a user of the company's Web site who said his personal information was given out to advertisers.

The lawsuit was filed against Intuit in New York and asks for damages plus the deletion of personal data collated from the firm’s alleged negligence.

The Quicken.com site offers financial services such as the ability to track and pay bills, and organise and pay income taxes. Intuit says the suit, filed by one Joseph Rubin, is without merit and that standard HTML coding practices caused the "unintentional" revelation.

Mortgage calculation and credit assessment tools took personal information from consumers including their income, assets and liabilities and then sent information to DoubleClick, the leading Web advertising broker. Intuit said it stopped the process when it discovered the loophole.

Whatever the outcome of the case, the news will alert companies to the dangers of dealing with personal data. In the UK, the Data Protection Act could also have the effect of causing more Web site owners to be more vigilant in their handling of personal data.