ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ A company accused of selling e-mails, in what may be the biggest deliberate breach of Internet privacy ever, has been sued by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
Spitzer on Thursday accused Gratis Internet of selling personal information obtained from millions of consumers despite a promise of confidentiality. The consumers thought they were participating in a general marketing survey and often received free i-Pods music players or DVD movies and video games.
The civil suit was filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
There was no immediate comment from Gratis Thursday. But in a statement after Spitzer's related lawsuit of March 12, a Gratis spokesmen said the company wasn't involved in any inappropriate practices.
In that case, Datran Media of New York City, a leading e-mail marketer, was accused of using unauthorized personal data ``mined'' by other firms from about 6 million e-mail addresses nationwide. Datran agreed to reform its practices under a $1.1 million settlement.
``Unless checked now, companies that collect and sell information on consumers will continue to find ways to erode the basic standards that protect privacy in the Internet age,'' Spitzer said.
Spitzer said Gratis' promises to consumers included: ``We will never give out, sell or lend your name or information to anyone,'' and ``We will never lend, sell or give out for any reason your e-mail address or personal information.''