ISPs Able To Use Your Surfing Data To Insert Their Own Ads Everywhere

from the privacy?-schmivacy dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about the fact that many ISPs were making good money selling your clickstream data to various companies for tracking purposes. Now there's a new advertising company that's come along to take advantage of this. The Associated Press has an article about NebuAd, a company that works with ISPs to use your clickstream data to better target advertisements to you. These aren't tracking cookies, which can easily be blocked, and depend on which websites you go to. This is your ISP, who has access to where you're surfing, using that data to insert more targeted ads. To its credit, the company has tried to be quite careful about keeping data private and setting it up in a way that it believes is impossible to trace the data back to an individual user. However, we've all heard stories about "anonymous" datasets that turn out to not be particularly anonymous. The company does also offer an "opt-out" solution, but how many people are even going to realize that their ISPs are a part of this program at all? It's also not entirely clear from the article where these ads are inserted, since most users spend little (if any) time on an ISPs own sites (however, some folks who have seen the ads suggest they appear... well... everywhere). While it's an extreme idea, just imagine an ISP combining this idea with something like what Rogers was caught doing in Canada (adding content to Google's page) and you could see how a greedy ISP might start putting its own, highly targeted, ads everywhere it wants, including places like Google's homepage. Hopefully, most ISPs recognize that this would lead to consumer outrage (and a lawsuit from Google), but would it be that much more complicated to be a bit more subtle and simply "replace" banner ads on certain sites without anyone really noticing? Yet another reason to encrypt all your traffic using a VPN or something to keep your ISP's prying eyes away from what you do.

Filed Under: advertising, clickstream data, isps
Companies: nebuad


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  1. identicon
    frontierwv, 5 Jan 2008 @ 8:48pm

    Frontier Communications now hijacking too

    Good article, I have not seen this posted enough, users need to be more aware of this! You can now add Frontier Communications to the list of web address hijackers. They do not go to any trouble to inform users of how this effects their privacy. So no we have to watch our own privacy from non-neutral ISP's. They are after the $$$'s and screw users privacy. FRONTIER REDIRECTING DOMAIN NAME REQUESTS REROUTING YOUR REQUEST AND COLLECTING INFORMATION ABOUT YOU!!! JANUARY 2008, LOCATION CHARLES TOWN WV, NEWLY IMPLEMENTED BY FRONTIER COMMUNICATIONS! I was typing in a URL address browsing the other day and typed the address wrong. suddenly I was directed to ┬╗search.myway.com. Frontier sponsored page. Usually and what is expected is that is "can't find " so I was thinking that I had a browser hijacker. After going through my system six ways from sunday. search.myway.com is commonly associated with spyware/virus issures and as far as I am concerned if I type in a URL just tell me it doesn't exist DO NOT REDIRECT MY INTERNET REQUESTS WITHOUT MY KNOWLEDGE!! I started looking at changing my DNS server to something other than frontier. Whammo problem fixed. SO if you think you have a virus problem, it may just be YOUR ISP!! After Calling tech support they told me that they are trying out DNS Redirects in Charles Town. So if you type in a URL address and Frontiers DNS server don't find it they redirect you to content provided my search.myway.com with frontier branding on it. Virus programmers do this if they can at a local level, but an ISP doing it on Domain Name Servers is DISHONEST, SNEAKY and WRONG. Especially if they don't tell you about it or make. Now, what to they do with this information. Here's their privacy policy ther is an IMPORTANT sentence at the end that has a lot of ramifications!! "MYWAY PRIVACY POLICY!! We do collect anonymous or non-PII about you in connection with your use of the Site. For example, each time you come to My Way, we collect the limited information that your browser makes available whenever you visit any website: including (a) your Internet Protocol (IP) address, (b) your domain (e.g., whether you logged on from compaq.com or whitehouse.gov), (c) the address of the last URL you visited prior to clicking through to the Site (d) your browser and platform type (e.g., a Netscape browser on a Macintosh platform), (e) your browser language, and (f) the data in any undeleted cookies that your browser previously accepted from us. In addition, we, our agents and our commerce partners may use cookies, "pixel tags," "clear GIFs" or other tracking technologies in connection with the Site. For example, when you visit My Way, we place a small text file -- called a "cookie" -- on your computer that allows us to identify your web browser. Cookies and other technologies are used on our site to assist us in understanding aggregate usage of the different areas of our service in order to improve the quality of our service. We also capture your source IP address which is a standard practice for most web sites. We in no way associate cookie and IP address data and also do not use IP address data in conjunction with any personally identifiable information. Cookies and other technologies are also used to customize the service based upon what site you arrived from and to store your preferences and settings. We note that information collected by our commerce partners will be subject to their privacy policies, not this Privacy Policy." After calling frontier and telling the tech I did not want this he Failed to tell me that I can opt out of their "REDIRECT SERVICE/DNS SPY/TRACKING PACKAGE" whatever you call it....heres the FAQ ┬╗www.frontierhelp.com/faq.cfm?qstid=587

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