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Users' details made public by Excite

Data Protection Act infringed as privacy busted wide open by glitch

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Excite UK's Web site has more holes in it than a battered old colander and it is compromising the privacy of those people who have subscribed to its personalised portal services. Instead of seeing their own personal details when they log into their "My Excite Start Page" at Excite.co.uk, users have had access to the name, date-of-birth, postcode and email address of any number of people. This serious lapse is in breach of the principles of the Data Protection Act and reveals a major security flaw in Excite's portal. Launching its new service four weeks ago it exclaimed: "Excite UK has raised the bar and announced a complete overhaul of the front page of its service, with a focus on enhancing its lead in personalisation and targeting for the benefit of both consumers and advertisers." Yet only two weeks after the service was launched it received complaints from users alerting them of the security breach. Two people have confirmed that their attempts to warn Excite about the problem were ignored. "I sent a feedback form to Excite.co.uk sometime last week and one the week before, so they should have details of my complaint," said one user who asked not to be identified. "At least they could have replied. Over the last two weeks or so, each time I log onto Excite my personal page shows different people's names… DOB, postcode and email address of these people. "Presumably, someone somewhere can also view mine," she said. Another Excite user said he'd seen personal information about eight different people. In a prepared statement Evan Rudowski, Excite UK's general manager, said: "We identified this error quickly and only a handful of users were actually affected. We have taken steps to contact those few users who were affected. We regret it when a problem occurs, because we care about our users and want them to enjoy and trust Excite." The Register is slightly concerned that Excite only moved to sort out this problem when we contacted them yesterday. If, as Rudowski makes out, Excite was aware of the problem, why didn't it notify people before The Register intervened? And why didn't Excite at least send a reply to those people who alerted them to the problem. The Register -- and those people whose personal privacy has been breached -- would like to know. ® Click here to email Tim Richardson. To read Evan Rudowski's statement in full, click here.

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