Is Your ISP Selling Your Clickstream Data? Do You Have Any Privacy At All?
from the privacy-nightmare dept
Alexa-competitor Compete Inc.'s
CEO CTO David Cancel told conference attendees Tuesday that there's a pretty good business for ISPs to sell your (just slightly) anonymized clickstream data. This explains how Compete Snapshot gets its data -- though, early reviews suggest the data isn't very good. This isn't aggregate data. The ISPs are literally selling the fact that "user 1" went to this particular list of sites in this order. He doesn't say who's buying the data (besides making it clear that he's a customer), but you can bet some of the hedge funds are making good use of it in determining what's hot as well. Still, as is noted in the article, this is "much worse" than last summer when AOL released search stream data. In that case, at least, AOL meant well in releasing the data for research purposes. In this case, it's selling your surfing habits for pure profit -- though, the "risks" are smaller since it's not nearly as easy for anyone to get their hands on the data. Of course, it probably isn't particularly hard to take that data and figure out who many of the "anonymous" users are, if someone wanted to do so. It would be interesting to see if users could make a case for this violating their privacy -- though, it would be quite difficult for any particular individual to find out if their ISP is doing this since, once again, the data is private. It's just one more reminder that your privacy may not be as private as you believe -- and also a reminder that figuring out how to surf the web over an encrypted system isn't a bad idea if you want to keep your surfing habits private.