Privacy groups fearful of Charter's intentions

By Justin Mann on June 6, 2008, 2:19 PM
It seems that as time goes by the distance between ISPs and their customers continues to grow. The Comcast fiasco has left many outraged, not only at their practices themselves but the deception they deployed in trying to cover it up. In the EU, BT is facing immense fallout following their “ad-replacement” deployment done without consent. And now, there is even more fallout. Another large ISP in the U.S. and Canada, Charter Communications, has earned the ire of fifteen separate groups from both countries.

Earlier this year, Charter announced their intention to begin tracking their customers activity, in order to deliver tailored advertisements. This is not that much different from what BT attempted in Europe, gathering information from a customer to hijack other advertisements on the Internet. The 15 separate groups see this as an intrusion of privacy. Charter claims that none of the information gathered can be used to personally identify anyone. Of course, that's what just about any company that harvests behavioral data claims – it is all anonymous, and no one will know that it is you who visited any particular site. I wonder just how “anonymous” such data could truly be, as we all know that the more custom-tailored a service becomes, the more tied to you it must be.

In addition, Charter intends to monitor their users’ connections, then sell that data to advertising companies. Somehow I doubt that the users will see any kickbacks from that data being sold. Bad news, Charter.




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