|WSJ Induces Charter to Reduce Spying|
|Sunday, 05 December 2010 00:12|
What They Know, the Pulitzer Prize worthy series on privacy, induced Charter Cable to cut relations with one dubious tracker. "One site where the researchers detected Interclick's technology was Charter.net, an online portal run by cable company Charter Communications Inc. A Charter spokeswoman said the company ended its relationship with Interclick after being contacted about the issue by the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago," Jessica Vascellaro reports.
The WSJ reporters, led by Julia Angwin, discovered "The 50 most-popular U.S. websites, including four run by Microsoft, installed an average of 64 pieces of tracking technology each onto a test computer." Following their link to http://tags.bluekai.com/registry, I discovered advertisers knew I was based in New York, frequently flew to California, and am a vegetarian. Alas, the claim I am a "high net worth" individual is false. It takes only a few seconds to check what they have on you, and it's probably more than you expect. The supposedly reputable Nielsen data company scrapes extremely personal postings about depression from medical sites. There's far more going on than I expected. http://online.wsj.com/public/page/what-they-know-digital-privacy.html
Alcatel is investing heavily in identifying what you and I are doing on the Internet, Their majority-owned group, Kindsight, "says six ISPs in the U.S., Canada and Europe have been testing its security service. 'These are tier-one ISPs we're working with,' along with 100,000 advertisers." WSJ, Steve Stecklow. I'm asking them why this is coming from their Kindsight group, because tracking including full DPI had previously been strategic for their router division.
Alcatel, Siemens and especially Cisco have been one-upping each other with promises to carriers about how efficiently they can track users. Siemens customer Deutsche Telekom tells me their new network watches "every session of every customer all the time."
Ironically, the carriers are spending heavily because they believe they will be able to earm massive amounts with their targeting information but Madison Avenue tells me the data is worth far less than carrier dreams. The WSJ stories make clear that the information is already out there, regularly collected by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and some less-known companies. It's one more reason to question the huge spending on "intelligent networks" when just adding more capacity often is cheaper and more reliable.
At a Pip Coburn's recent event, I asked some folks who place $billions in advertising how much the targeting will be worth to them. The answer from Maidison Avenue is that the information isn't nearly as valuable as touted. Major advertisers are years or decades away from being able to service a "demo of 1" because creating campaigns to effectively use that targeted data is prohibitively expensive. They are spending for some information, but nothing like the dreams of the telecom folks of future revenue.