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Sky downplays Spook behavioural link

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BSkyB has been downplaying concerns about its AdSmart behavioural advertising technology, which will launch next year.

It's a touchy subject, since the furore over Phorm's WebWise made behavioural ad tech - used by most web publishers - synonymous with spoofing and borderline-illegal traffic interception.

Sky's use of behavioural ads is pretty limited. It will deploy AdSmart in choosing the promotional clips that bookend videos shown on its Sky Player services. Sky Player offers access to video material for the dishless - on PC and Mac, Xbox, and mobile devices - as well as Sky's existing subscribers. Behavioural here includes inferences from general data such as postcode and gender, which the subscriber provides voluntarily.

"It's the same tools we use as part of a direct mail out - we don't send ads that are meaningless to certain audiences," said a spokesperson. "If we know you're an HD+ customer then rather than showing you an ad to upgrade to HD+, we might notice that you're a Music pack subscriber, and send you a promo for the MTV Music Awards in HD".

So AdSmart will only be used on the short "pre-roll" and "post-roll" ads around a piece of video content.

One line caught the eye of consumer website BitterWallet. The new T&Cs says Sky may use the information:

to enable us to comply with any legal requirements, in the detection and prevention of fraud and other crimes, and for the purpose of safeguarding national security

So, watch one too many Ross Kemp videos and you're turned in? Not quite says, Sky - it's simply stating its RIPA obligation that other service providers like to pretend isn't there.

"We're now obliged to hold Communications Data - but we'd only provide that once we're sufficiently comfortable it's a genuine request, and something we should honour. An assessment is made by us as to the validity of that request. "

Sky will allow users to opt-out, although if you're in the habit of deleting all cookies on exit, this "opt-out" cookie will be deleted too. ®

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