Is Public Shame Enough To Keep ISPs From Doing Bad Stuff With Your Data?

from the not-if-no-one-knows-what's-going-on dept

While there has been a lot of attention paid recently to ISPs using clickstream tracking to provide targeted ads, it seems that many people are still focused on the activities of the ad companies, such as NebuAd, which garnered some attention from Congress for its offering. However, as we pointed out recently, many ISPs have been selling your clickstream data to others for years without people knowing about it. Now, with Congress threatening to put regulations in place, the various ISPs are scrambling to push back against that possibility.

For example, Broadband Reports points out that Verizon is claiming that the chance of a public shaming will keep the company honest. While it's certainly true that a public shaming is a risk, it's also true that the sale of clickstream data is usually kept entirely secret, which would preclude any sort of public shaming. Public shaming could work if the companies were upfront and honest with how they're using data. But, since they're not, it's difficult to see how that works as a self-regulating mechanism.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2008 @ 10:59pm

    public shame My A$$

    i know its true were i am and i keep hearing that its true in Canada and most parts of the US.

    with no real competition companies will do as they like, being connected has become a necessity and most ppl will put up with anything be able to be online.

    as much as i hate governments interfering with daily business the ISP have too much freedom as is...

     

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  2.  
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    Bad Wolf, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 12:10am

    Verizon has been shamed many times and it hasn't kept them honest yet.

     

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  3.  
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    Allen (profile), Oct 16th, 2008 @ 12:47am

    I was going to ask if you could define what you mean by "Bad Stuff" - it's a bit of a grey term. By then I realised it was perfect, because without rules in place to show what is and isn't permitted, these guys are going to play around the edges in the grey areas between what is clearly acceptable and what is clearly not.

    Shaming by itself would not be enough.

    I suppose that an industry code of conduct that clearly defines the boundaries along side "Shaming" might work - provided that the forum properly engaged all of the stakeholders.

    Ultimately though, regulation and law would make me feel better.

     

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  4.  
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    Paul, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 4:02am

    So, if Verizon is claiming that the chance of a public shaming will keep the company honest, then they shouldn't have a problem with a law that says the same thing.

    In fact, it should make the ISPs life easier, no?

     

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  5.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 5:31am

    Regulation Deregulation Farce

    I can't beleive there are still so many advocates of self regulation, deregulation, industry codes of conduct, trade bodies etc. Call it what you want it amounts to the same thing: The people with most to gain from being amoral will be the ones setting the rules

    How many times do you have to get screwed by different companies using the same excuses before you wise up?

    They sold your data, they destroyed your market, they poisened the rivers and fed plastic to your cattle. They put zinc in your toothpaste and they continue to make you drive underpowered, overguzzling cars and still people beleive in self regulation?

    "oops, sorry you got us - we'll try to do better next time" doesn't cut it, and thats what it'll come down to; deep down you know this

    The argument "government interfering" in business is just a smokescreen. Yes it would be bad if governments intervened and set the way every company should do business, but that's not what is on the table. All anyone is suggesting is that the government, on behalf of the people (that's you) should set minimum standards of behaviour, try this:

    "No you are not allowed to sell peoples data without their express consent"
    "No you can't just give out loans irresponsibly and wait for a bailout"
    "Putting arsenic in rivers is bad - that's a no"
    "Sorry - only real protein for live stock - no plastic"
    "Zinc in toothpaste? no import license for you"
    "

     

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  6.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 5:33am

    Regulation Deregulation Farce Pt.2

    I got cut off mid flow by running out of characters... ;0)


    "

     

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  7.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Oct 16th, 2008 @ 5:37am

    Shamming not enough

    Why not an industry code of conduct? It amazes me how much the industry opposes regulation, but they also refuse to make any public commitments to the consumer. This leaves the consumer a victim of any arbitrary and capricious actions implemented by the IPSs.

    If any industry refuses to acknowledge that it has responsibility to act ethically if we want a civilized society it deserves to be regulated. One just has to look at the failure of our financial institutions today. The ISPs are not far behind.

    Anyway, if they are making money off our data, we should be getting a royalty!

     

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  8.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 5:58am

    Re: Regulation Deregulation Farce Pt.2

    Ah apparently it wasn't too many characters - it was a less than sign which got translated as HTML

    ah well - I got sick of writing the same thing out 3 times so to cut a long story short, it's kind of governments job to set standards of behaviour for society

    I realise this is techdirt and the "let the market sort it out" crowd will be along any minute to flame me (although they've been oddly quiet lately) but consider sensible regulations one step towards getting your country back from the corporations

    Flame on ;0)

     

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  9.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Oct 16th, 2008 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re: Regulation Deregulation Farce Pt.2

    "let the market sort it out" crowd is cowering in their foxholes refusing to accept the reality that the markets can fail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Oct 16th, 2008 @ 8:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Regulation Deregulation Farce Pt.2

    Yeah I figured, but in all honesty I'm getting a kind of perverse pleasure out their silence - for years I've held the belief that excessive greed and avarice probably aren't the best things to base your society on and throughout that time they've never shut up!

    Now if the "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" crowd would just read the occasional byline I could go home ;0)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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