Tracking good samaritans

I got the following email from hotels.com the other day, asking me to provide feedback on their service and the last hotels I stayed at.

Nothing wrong with that – I have no direct benefit from this but believe in the power of community feedback etc. So I thought what the heck, let’s take the time to complete a quick survey.

So I clicked on the “write a review” link in the email, which directed me to this URL:

http://click.mail.hotels.com/?qs=d022f9b41a16aff5d6ebfc436e6bb406416e73ed4926ea9826856a4c9a1a5fe9571b8d186c7913567898645f30c4bdb9

…which redirected me to:

http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;229503547;53487117;m?http://www.hotels.com/submitreview.html?lastName=mylastname&itineraryId=53807570&intlid=review&rffrid=eml.hcom.UK.400.00.2011.01.18.src00.00.00.0000.0000.00.0000&pos=HCOM_UK&locale=en_GB&et_jb=2&et_j=17173477&et_e=my_email_address&et_l=1935712_HTML&et_u=196887636&et_mid=198875&_dc_ck=try

…which finally takes me to a webpage that demands I download and execute Javascript code in my browser before displaying anything:

http://reviews.hotels.com/7014h-en_gb/7310/writereview.htm?format=embedded&user=6bf4d77c00a3e7254a885e86b510cf53646174653d3230313130313138267573657269643d35333830373539305f2d3130342650726f6475637449443d37333130264850726f706572747949443d32373431363226545049443d2d31303426545549443d3533383037353930264c6f6249443d33264974696e49443d3533383037353930264c69643d32303537264272616e6449443d39264f726967696e3d73697465&submissionurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hotels.com%2Fsubmitreview.html

Asking for the “Privacy Policy”, takes me here:

http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;229503547;53487117;m%3Fhttp://www.hotels.com/customer_care/privacy.html?rffrid=eml.hcom.UK.400.00.2011.01.18.src00.00.00.0000.0000.00.0000&pos=HCOM_UK&locale=en_GB&intlid=FTR.TR.SUR.eml.privacy&et_jb=2&et_j=17173477&et_e=my_email_address&et_l=1935712_HTML&et_u=196887677&et_mid=198875

(I substituted my real information for the red text in the above URLs)

It’s an Orwellian world when requesting a privacy policy sends one’s personal information to a DoubleClick tracking page…

PS: If you want to know & control which websites your browser connects to, use Firefox with the RequestPolicy addon.

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