There's been plenty of controversy over ISPs using
companies like Phorm and NebuAd to effectively sell your clickstream data to advertisers by inserting "more targeted" advertising into your regular surfing. If you haven't been following the controversy, these systems work by watching everything you surf online at the ISP level, and compiling a profile in order to serve ads on other pages. In other words, if you surf a website about golf, your ISP records this and then when you're later reading technology news, the ISP may inject an advertisement about golf. Beyond questions raised over the legality
of such things, there are many questions raised concerning how such systems violate privacy. There have been calls to make sure that these types of solutions are opt-in only
. In the meantime, ISPs that are adopting these solutions are trying to present them in the best possible light. Witness cable broadband provider Charter, who is pitching its use of NebuAd as a way to bring you its "enhanced online experience."
Charter, which is setting this up as a opt-out solution, rather than an opt-in solution, sent an email to its subscribers, talking up all the wonderful "enhancements," brushing over the fact that it's basically exposing all of your surfing history to advertisers, and inserting its own ads into your experience. I'm not sure most users would actually consider that to be "enhanced."