Feeds

Hitwise and Compete: the user data ISPs do sell

Data pimping it old school

Build a Business Case: Developing Custom Apps

Testifying before Congress last month, three of America's four largest ISPs said they wouldn’t sell customer data to the likes of Phorm and NebuAd without getting consent. And the press applauded. But no one thought to ask one more question: Are they selling customer data to anyone else?

Addressing the Senate Commerce committee, AT&T, Time Warner, and Verizon said they do not engage in so-called behavioral ad targeting - and they would never do such a thing unless their customers gave the A-OK.

"Any technology that is used to track and collect customer online behavior for the purposes of targeting advertising - regardless of which company is doing the collecting - should only be used with the customer's knowledge and consent," Verizon executive vice president Thomas Tauke told the committee.

In other words, these ISP behemoths insisted they don't sell data to Phorm, NebuAd, Front Porch, or any other outfit that operates along similar lines - echoing words they tossed at House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee this summer.

But amidst the ongoing controversy over ISP-level behavioral advertising - both in the US and in the UK - the world has forgotten that ISPs were already selling customer data to outside operations, including "web analytics" outfits like Hitwise and Compete. Hitwise traffic monitoring software sits inside 30 ISPs across the globe, tracking the online behavior of 25 million people, while Compete collects web user data from twenty ISPs or ASPs in the US.

According to year-old talk from former Compete CTO David Cancel, the company pays ISPs roughly 40 cents a month for each user's clickstream.

With Phorm and NebuAd, the problem wasn't that they were serving ads. The problem was that ISPs were passing them customer search and browsing data without necessarily getting consent. Hitwise and Compete are certainly buying data. The questions is whether they're getting consent - and whether the data can be traced back to individual users.

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Brit celebs' homes VANISH from Google's Street View
Tony Blair's digs now a Tone-y Blur
Virgin Media goes titsup AGAIN. The cause? Yet MORE DNS strife
ISP refuses to comment on why outages keep happening
10Gbps over crumbling COPPER: Boffins cram bits down telco wire
XG-FAST tech could finesse fiber connections
What the world needs now is... a Bluetooth-enabled baby's dummy
Oh NO! Temp-sensor pacifier just got dunked in my tea
BT slapped down by BSkyB over O2 broadband 'switch off' porkies
Ad watchdog tells one-time state monopoly to behave
Siri, did we just take a hit in that voice-recog patent fight?
Yes, Apple, you did, says this Beijing court
Islamic terror peril hits US giants' phone wallets
'We have made the decision to rebrand' says ISIS Isis
Do your execs take mobile security seriously?
Situation, tactics and air cover
BlackBerry knocks Google's KNOX LOCK PICK for Android
John Chen disses Samsung's security solution
Silent Circle takes on Skype, Viber, mobile telcos with crypto-VoIP
But, hey ... we cut the roaming charges, mumble mobile carriers
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem
Download this brochure to find five ways HP BladeSystem can optimize your business with the power of one.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.