More Internet Providers Back Away from NebuAd

July 03, 2008 07:01 AM
by Josh Katz
Two other ISPs are following in the footsteps of Charter Communications and detaching themselves from the NebuAd company because of privacy concerns.

30-Second Summary

In June, Charter, the fourth-largest internet service provider in the United States, put a hold on a recently announced plan to track the online activities of customers and share the information with NebuAd, a firm that customizes online advertising to the audience. Ads that are more targeted—and therefore presumably more effective—can bring in greater revenue.

Members of Congress had pushed Charter to delay the plan, but the company attributed the stall to technology issues, according to Online Media Daily.

Now, ISPs CenturyTel and Embarq, which have about 500,000 and 1.3 million customers respectively, are also distancing themselves from NebuAd. Both CenturyTel and Embarq had tested the NebuAd platform, but they are currently ceasing their involvement with the company.

Charter’s customers would have had the opportunity to opt out of the new online snooping technology, but many critics argued that an opt-in system would have been more appropriate, “where information isn’t collected until the user explicitly grants permission,” reported The New York Times.

Meanwhile a similar debate over Internet privacy is currently taking place in Europe, where the ISP Phorm is also tracking sites that users view to mold customized advertising.

In the United States, Facebook and Google’s Gmail service also have stirred controversy, pursuing advertising tactics that some consider an infringement of privacy.

Headline Links: CenturyTel and Embarq follow Charter's lead

Background: Charter delays plans; Congress examines Charter ad campaign

Reactions: Charter responds to criticism

Opinion & Analysis: Is opting out of NebuAd’s ‘sniffer’ enough?

Related Topics: Phorm and Facebook

Reference: Guide to Internet privacy


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