Feeds

Hitwise and Compete: the user data ISPs do sell

Data pimping it old school

Boost IT visibility and business value

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.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard
OK, his constituency. Brace yourself for EXTRA #selfies
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.