Feeds

American cable giant joins data pimping club

Charter member

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Charter Communications, the eighth largest ISP in the States, has jumped into bed with NebuAd, a behavioral ad targeting firm along the lines of Phorm and Front Porch.

As reported by The New York Times, Charter will begin testing NebuAd's service sometime over the next month, with an eye towards tracking the search and browsing habits of nearly 3 million people - and making some extra money.

Using deep packet inspection hardware sitting on Charter's cable-based network, NebAd will track every web page visited by all those poor souls who don't opt out. It will then use this data to serve up targeted ads. If someone searches for cars, they'll soon see ads for cars.

"We can track someone looking for a luxury car, not just a car - someone searching not just for travel but travel to the south of France or Las Vegas," is how NebuAd CEO Bob Dykes described the service in a recent interview with The Reg.

Of course, the company also says it records no personally identifiable information.

The (semi-)good news is that Charter has been a bit more open about its NebuAd partnership than other ISPs, including WOW!, Embarq, and Knology. As first leaked by Broadband Reports, the St. Louis-based Charter has actually notified customers with real life letters.

That said, the letters includes words like this:

I am writing to inform you of an enhancement coming soon to your web browsing experience via Charter’s High-Speed Internet service. While continuing to deliver the same fast and reliable Internet service you’ve always received, innovative new technology enables Charter to provide you with an enhanced online experience that is more customized to your interests and activities.

As a result, the advertising you typically see online will better reflect the interests you express through your web-surfing activity. You will not see more ads - just ads that are more relevant to you.

Needless to say, not everyone sees Phorm and the Phormettes as "enhancements." But Charter does point users to an opt-out page. Customers should note, however, that this is a cookie-based opt-out. If you delete your cookies, switch browsers, or hook up a new machine, the tracking starts anew.

And, of course, those customers shouldn't have to opt out.

A Charter spokeswoman did respond to our request for comment, but she was unable to put us in touch with someone who could actually field our questions. When The New York Times asked senior vice president Ted Schremp whether Phorm and Phormettes should use an opt-in model, he said that "opt-out has become the norm for all targeting on the Internet."

Schremp wouldn't tell the paper how much NebuAd is paying, but he confirmed that Charter is in this for the money. "We want to leverage technology in a way that makes sense for our economic model," he said. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.