On May 15th TRUSTe sealholder, Comcast Corp. announced it is buying contact management company Plaxo Inc. another TRUSTe seaholder. Comcast wants to incorporate address books and social network services into its Comcast.net, Fancast.com and Fandango.com Web sites and eventually set-top box cable subscribers.


Some Plaxo customers have raised privacy concerns associated with their contact and their address book data being accessed and used by Comcast.


TRUSTe certifies both the Comcast and the Plaxo privacy statements, so we reviewed the Plaxo privacy statement to answer some key questions:


  1. Can Comcast market its services to Plaxo users under the PS without providing an opt-out or notice?

No. First, Plaxo promises that both members and non-members have the option to opt-out of e-mail from the company. The only exception under the Plaxo privacy statement is that Plaxo may send to its current members strictly service-related announcements which are not promotional in nature (e.g. notices of changes to their privacy policy or terms of service) which do not have an opt-out option.

  1. Can Comcast market to your address book contacts either registered Plaxo Users or not?

No. Plaxo, in its privacy policy, considers your address book contacts to be just that – your contacts. Plaxo does not share your contacts’ information with third parties. Also, your contacts and non-users have rights under Plaxo’s privacy policy to request removal from your address book and to opt-out of receiving update requests.

  1. How can I or my contacts delete my account or contact information from Plaxo.

Plaxo allows members to request to have their information, which also include contacts’ information, deleted from its systems and promises that this right will be retained even in the event of a business transition. A member just needs to log into their Plaxo account or contact Customer Support. [Read here for more on: Deleting information from address books]

  1. Can Comcast change the way Plaxo manages my data?

No. Plaxo’s privacy statement promises that following a business transition (e.g. an acquisition) the Plaxo member’s information will continue to only be used in the manner in which it was collected. If Plaxo wants to use your data in a different matter they need to notify you as to the change, you will have a choice as to whether your data may be used in this manner. Plaxo privacy statement states that you will retain the ownership of your data and will retain the ability to delete you data at any time.


Finally, TRUSTe provides a free service to both Comcast and Plaxo users to mediate any disputes with involving their privacy rights and data provided to wither company via the TRUSTe Watchdog


Carolyn Hodge