PRIVATE A: America Online said Thursday that it will clarify its advertising to let users know it can’t vouch for their privacy whenever they are on the Web. The move is a result of a request from the Better Business Bureau, which asked AOL to change language in its TV ad that said the service provides strong privacy and security to its 28 million customers. The BBB was concerned new users might think the ad, which states “At America Online, your security and privacy are always protected,” applied to the entire Internet. As reported, AOL’s leading e-commerce area is apparel.

CHARMING ACQUIRES ALIGHT: Charming Shoppes Inc., which operates several nationwide chains of plus-size apparel retailers, said Thursday that it will purchase the Web site assets of alight.com, an online retailer specializing in plus-size women’s apparel. The company also said some of alight’s executives will have positions at Charming to support its online initiatives. In other news at the retailer, total sales for the five weeks ended April 7, 2001, decreased 1 percent to $145 million against the same period a year ago. Comparable store sales for Charming Shoppes decreased 3 percent for the five weeks ended April 7, 2001. Charming Shoppes operates 1,772 stores in 48 states under the names Fashion Bug, Fashion Bug Plus, Catherine’s Plus Size, The Answer and Added Dimensions.

U.K. AD SPEND UP: It might be sluggish elsewhere, but online ad spending in the U.K. is skyrocketing. A recent survey showed that companies spent $222.1 million in 2000 to advertise, up from $73.2 million in 1999. The survey, done by the Internet Advertising Bureau, in conjunction with PriceWaterhouseCoopers, also noted that online advertising has overtaken the annual spend on cinema ads for the first time.