Friday, April 04, 2008

ISPs track surfers to develop targeted ads and improve "bottom lines"

The surfing of over 100,000 home users is being monitored by ISPs under contract with advertising companies, in order to determine whether ads could be targeting not only by the content of the web pages that they appear on, but also by the surfing habits of the visitor.

The news story is by Peter Whoriskey, The Washington Post, Business, p D01, Friday April 4, 2008, “Every click you make: Internet providers quietly test expanded tracking of web use to target advertising,” link here.

It seems as though the subjects are chosen randomly and do not know they are being monitored.

One criticism is that this sound like a telephone company's random eavesdropping on calls in the pre-Internet age. Remember the days of party lines? (I do, on summer trips to Ohio.)

Ad companies would be trying new technologies to increase revenue because of the downturn expected with the Subprime mortgage crisis.

1 comment:

Sunil said...

Not only is the incredibly intrusive but is extremely dangerous. The reason this is dangerous is that it is very difficult to filter what is stored and what is not. Usually people get lazy and end up storing more information than they should. Once things are stored, they get into the wrong hands and fraud happens on a grand scale.

The two things that should be done to prevent this are

1. Make penalties for leakage of information that is stored without explicit consent by the users punitive. This will increase the cost of such monitoring significantly.
2. For providers of websites to switch more and more to using https (encrypted http). This will make the traffic immune to man in the middle monitoring. I think the pipes, clients and servers have become powerful enough for this to be the default.