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ISPs Try To Prevent New 'Opt In Only' Privacy Law
AT&T, Verizon Time Warner present voluntary code of conduct.....
by Karl Bode 01:34PM Thursday Sep 25 2008
It appears that ISPs are trying to pre-empt Congressional efforts to create a new law that would make the sale of user browsing data opt-in only. Instead, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable are proposing a voluntary code of conduct for the sale of user data. According to Broadcasting and Cable, the ISPs are collectively saying they'd only use behavioral advertising systems that required users to opt-in, instead of forcing users to opt-out. From a Verizon statement before Congress:
quote:
Verizon believes that before a company captures certain Internet-usage data for targeted or customized advertising purposes, it should obtain meaningful, affirmative consent from consumers." To get that meaningful consent, Tauke said, requires a) explaining to consumers exactly what kind of data are being collected and for what; b) treating a failure to consent as meaning no collection of data for "online behavioral marketing"; and c) consumers' ability to easily opt out if they initially agree but change their minds.
AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom tells me that AT&T is "pushing for much tougher rules to force companies to have customers opt-in." However, it's fairly clear that the ISPs are worried about the news that Representative Edward J. Markey was cooking up a new mandatory opt-in law, and it's fairly obvious these ISPs would prefer new guidelines created by themselves over ones created by Congress.

Congress's sudden interest in behavioral advertising led to the collapse of behavioral advertising firm NebuAD and endangered a lucrative revenue stream for ISPs. Strangely, the nation's leaders still aren't aware that ISPs have been selling user clickstream data for years with absolutely no transparency or user opt-out systems in place.

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cahiatt
Premium
join:2001-03-21
Smyrna, GA

Makes sense....

Get congress off your back for now, change your mind later when nobody is looking....

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Makes sense....

said by cahiatt:

Get congress off your back for now, change your mind later when nobody is looking....
This is the best time to do it - all of our politicians are too "busy" with the economy.

SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA

Re: Makes sense....

Its easier to bait-n-switch than to undermine new laws in the future.

jester121
Premium
join:2003-08-09
Lake Zurich, IL
said by Rob:

This is the best time to do it - all of our politicians are too "busy" with the economy getting re-elected.
Fixed it for you.
jc100

join:2002-04-10

Re: Makes sense....

said by jester121:

This is the best time to do it - all of our politicians are too "busy" with the economy getting re-elected and concocting promises they will forget after being chosen.
There. Final Edit and Start the presses.

jester121
Premium
join:2003-08-09
Lake Zurich, IL

Re: Makes sense....

Perfect.
damox
Premium
join:2002-01-07
Olympia, WA
Yeah that is how most politicians are . . . except for a few who are ever consistent and really care about this country!

nixen
Rockin' the Boxen
Premium
join:2002-10-04
Alexandria, VA

You Can Be sure...

...that the proposed opt-in will be buried on page 6 of your monthly bill and that payment of your bill is your consent to monitoring.
--
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. -- Bertrand Russell
AVonGauss
Premium
join:2007-11-01
Boynton Beach, FL

1 edit

Wow...

Congress is considering doing something helpful and useful for the people? Are you sure the facts of the article are correct?

Levity aside, why the hell do ISPs believe they have a right to sell our usage data? Does that mean a telco or cell provider should be able to sell the numbers you call, how often and then target you for ads?

Your call will be connected shortly after a message from our sponsor... Wait, I am the customer, I am the sponsor. If anybody should be selling the data and receiving the profit, it is me.
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA

2 recommendations

Re: Wow...

said by AVonGauss:

Levity aside, why the hell do ISPs believe they have a right to sell our usage data? Does that mean a telco or cell provider should be able to sell the numbers you call, how often and then target you for ads?
Why you lowly peon don't you understand that the Almighty Dollar is their God.

dnoyeB
Ferrous Phallus

join:2000-10-09
Southfield, MI
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: Wow...

I think telcos got busted for this a few years ago. They actually were selling your calling history to the buying public too. Online no less.

And when I say busted I mean exposed, not punished.
--
dnoyeB
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom [is] despised, and his words are not heard. " Ecclesiastes 9:16

FFH5
Premium
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Tavistock NJ
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1 edit
said by AVonGauss:

Levity aside, why the hell do ISPs believe they have a right to sell our usage data? Does that mean a telco or cell provider should be able to sell the numbers you call, how often and then target you for ads?
How about because every industry you do business with does the same thing. Except for video rental places and health providers, which were prohibited by specific laws, your electric company, bank, loan company, electronic store, department store, etc all can sell your info to others for advertising purposes. They all allow OPT_OUT. But none of them have an OPT-IN policy.
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JohnQPublic6
Premium
join:2002-03-22
Xanadu

3 recommendations

Re: Wow...

said by FFH5:

How about because every industry you do business with does the same thing.
Well all righty then. Let's board the "if every other industry does it it must be kosher" train and ride on down the tracks. We know when we let industry leaders do as they wish it all works out just swell.
--
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funchords
Hello
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6
said by FFH5:

because every industry you do business with does the same thing. Except for video rental places
Is that so? Is that a federal law?
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FFH5
Premium
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Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

2 edits

Re: Wow...

said by funchords:

said by FFH5:

because every industry you do business with does the same thing. Except for video rental places
Is that so? Is that a federal law?
Yes
»epic.org/privacy/vppa/

The HIPAA Act provides the same kind of specific privacy for health providers and insurers. Doctors, dentists, pharmacies, health insurers, hospitals, etc.
»www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/
»aspe.hhs.gov/admnsimp/pl104191.htm
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funchords
Hello
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join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

Re: Wow...

VPPA is a very interesting example! Thanks TK!
Baff

join:2007-12-05
Murrieta, CA

Re: Wow...

VPPA was put in place to protect politicians, it's just luck that it protects the rest of us too.
jc100

join:2002-04-10

Re: Wow...

Basically.

As for TK junk Mail, NO those black boxes are NOT used at trials. Please cite me proof where they have been? While they are used to recreate an accident (can tell speed and such) MANY older cars DO NOT have them.

»money.cnn.com/2006/08/22/autos/e···ndex.htm

Read this, they are used to reconstruct accidents, but are not a tell tale sign of everything that happened. Matter of fact THEY HAVE TO BE DISCLOSED in the owner manual and MANY states have made laws forbidding / limiting the use of their information in many cases.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Wow...

EDR data has been accepted as evidence in some courts for both civil & criminal cases. And not in other courts - it depends on the jurisdiction. So my claim that the data is used is correct.
»www.jlolaw.com/Articles/AutoDiag···ules.pdf
»www.harristechnical.com/cdr7.htm
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jc100

join:2002-04-10

Re: Wow...

Actually, it's been HIGHLY REGULATED by state laws. THE EDR only serves as ONE of many factors in recreating an accident. ANY CAR with an EDR HAS to disclose that to the owner. Last count 64 percent of cars have them, BUT here's the winner you missed. 36 percent don't and OWNERS HAVE A CHOICE to go with one lacking this unit. So yes, there's a BIG DIFFERENCE. Consumer choice. IE HAVING to OPT IN similar to this article VS being forced to "OPT OUT". SWISH.
jc100

join:2002-04-10

2 edits
First off, just because every industry does it, does not make it right. We left plenty of industries to go UNCHECKED and without regulation. I guess if you've watched the news, you've seen how well that worked out. Tax payers get a nice 700 billion raw deal to bail out these businesses, while the rest of us suffer and barely afford to live. Personally, my INFORMATION is private. If a company wishes to sell it WITHOUT my consent, then I have a beef. I pay the bill for their service, NOT vice versa. Now if they are going to give me their service for free, that's a different story. However, when I pay to use a place, I expect they protect my information accordingly. I'm amazed litigation lawyers haven't nailed the crap out of these companies for their lack of respect for customers.

P.S. Do you propose we stick black boxes in every car (actually these exist) and then use the data to sell your driving habits? I mean why not. Better yet, let's use this data in criminal / trial courts against you. Would you like that to happen. I'd imagine not. Then again, everyone else collects your data without consent, so why not just let it happen in other realms of our lives. Why not open ourselves up to this information being used against us legally in the future.

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: Wow...

said by jc100:

P.S. Do you propose we stick black boxes in every car (actually these exist) .... Better yet, let's use this data in criminal / trial courts against you. Would you like that to happen. I'd imagine not.
It already is used in both criminal & civil trials.
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Dogfather
Premium
join:2007-12-26
Laguna Hills, CA

They've proven they can't conduct themselves property

Which is why such a law is absolutely necessary.

dadkins
Can you do Blu?
Premium,MVM
join:2003-09-26
Hercules, CA
kudos:18

VZ, AT&T, and TW...

No shocker for AT&T, but VZ and TW.

Yeah, this is good idea!
They sell my info, *I* should get something out of it besides ads.
--
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FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

2 edits

Re: VZ, AT&T, and TW...

said by dadkins:

No shocker for AT&T, but VZ and TW.

Yeah, this is good idea!
They sell my info, *I* should get something out of it besides ads.
Well these companies make a good point:

quote:
And finally, all participants -- including ad networks, search engines, Internet-service providers and others -- need to commit to those principles and agree to certification of compliance by an independent third-party. "We believe companies engaged in online behavioral advertising should agree to participate in a credible, third-party certification process to demonstrate to consumers that they are doing what they say with regard to the collection and use of information for online behavioral advertising," he said.
That these rules being considered by Congress should apply to all web sites as well as ISPs. Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, BBR, etc should also have to do the same thing - make use of user interaction OPT-IN. Most web sites don't even have an OPT-OUT policy, let alone an OPT-IN one.

Why should data collection & ad targeting laws be applied to ISPs and not also all the web sites as well? After all, use of an ISP is just as voluntary as is use of a web site or search engine.

I notice that some of those supporting laws curtailing ISP data collection options are the same ones that would benefit from less competition from ISPs - MS, Google, Yahoo, etc. The drafts of the proposed law do not include web sites and search engines. This looks like just more of the same - don't want to compete - so get laws that only apply to your competitors.
--
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tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
·Comcast

How about......

Both a legally binding opt-in AND
" all participants -- including ad networks, search engines, Internet-service providers and others -- need to commit to those principles and agree to certification of compliance by an independent third-party."
So if you choose to opt-in you KNOW they won't abuse the agreement

asdfdfdfdfdfdf

@Level3.net

Re: VZ, AT&T, and TW...

I'm not opposed to rules being in effect for web sites as well, nor am I opposed to rules being in effect for companies such as google that are in a more unique and powerful position than the average web site. There need to be boundaries and norms set across the board.

Still we shouldn't blur a major distinction. Everything that you do or see or go to online has to pass through your isp so they are the one entity that is in a position to know everything that you do online and track every move you make. Although they say they won't do so they also are in a unique position to be able to personally identify you and tie everything that you do to your name, address etc.
This makes the situation for isps particularly dangerous and therefore they need to be a greater focus than the millions of websites that are out there.

funchords
Hello
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join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

Re: VZ, AT&T, and TW...

said by asdfdfdfdfdfdf :

I'm not opposed to rules being in effect for web sites as well, nor am I opposed to rules being in effect for companies such as google that are in a more unique and powerful position than the average web site. There need to be boundaries and norms set across the board.
Just probing -- what makes Google a special case in your mind. Just it's size? Is your concern an anti-trust thing? Or is it their "analytics" and you think that analytics activity in general needs some regulation?
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asdfdfdfdfdfdf

@Level3.net

Re: VZ, AT&T, and TW...

Certainly google analytics is an important part of my concern. Google is THE search engine today.They have developed an extensive advertising operation and are able to aggregate information and track people in ways that no individual or typical company website could hope to do.
This gives them a power that I would place somewhere between that of the isp(which I feel is in the most powerful and dangerous position) and that of the average website(which I feel is relatively harmless).

It's not size per se, though size is often related to position of power. The greater the power the greater the need for boundaries to constrain it. The present financial crisis reminds us markets do not necessarily act as an effective check. There have to be social and political norms in place to create the right ethos.

funchords
Hello
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join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6

Re: VZ, AT&T, and TW...

That's a fair answer. I respect your point of view.

I hate to punish an outfit simply for being successful. Google has done some very interesting things to make sure that customers can come AND GO as they please.

For example, if you use Gmail, you can export your address book and take it with you to any provider of your choice. A lot of other webmail services "lock you in" by making it easy to import addresses, but not export them.

If you use something like AdBlock or hosts file to block their domains, cookies, or whatnot, they don't even try to get around your blocks or prevent you from using their search features.

They're also one of the most open companies that I've heard of.

And take their position on Net Neutrality -- Google has the money to pay the extra fares that big ISPs want to charge them. Fighting for Net Neutrality doesn't just help Google, it helps its competitors equally well.

I'm a little bit Pollyanna, but stuff like that goes a long way for me. I agree that they have a lot of power. But examples like these demonstrate to me that they tend not to use that power to disadvantage its users or unethically hit at its competitors.

While I mildly disagree with your concern, I can respect your position. It's gotten pretty rough in the war between the BigCorps and the rest of the world, and as Ronald Reagan said, "trust, but verify."
--
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asdfdfdfdfdfdf

@Level3.net

1 recommendation

Re: VZ, AT&T, and TW...

I don't really disagree with you and I have been more defender than critic of google. I just tend to take the long view and I'm an old enough fart to know the predictable way things generally play out.

"I hate to punish an outfit simply for being successful. "

I'm not looking to punish google. I'm looking for norms and boundaries that reinforce people's better tendencies and counteract their worst. As long as google continues to behave relatively well sound rules shouldn't be a particular burden to them.

"But examples like these demonstrate to me that they tend not to use that power to disadvantage its users or unethically hit at its competitors."

I agree with what you say but companies have a life cycle. Google is still a young, rising, growing company driven by its original creators idealism and vision. They won't be rising forever and we know how power warps everything it touches. Down the road the original visionaries retire or are forced out, growth slows, upstarts come along trying to get a foot in the door, one no longer feels like a young buck but feels old and threatened, the seductiveness of leveraging power to protect one's established position becomes overwhelming. In short they will become a thorn in the side of society as have nearly all who came before them. I agree they aren't that presently. Wise policy can delay that inevitable day.

bent
and Inga
Premium
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Loveland, CO
Although Google is in a more powerful position than the average website, the ISPs are in that much more of a powerful position. If I want to hide from Google, I use a proxy. Not so much with my ISP.
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funchords
Hello
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join:2001-03-11
Yarmouth Port, MA
kudos:6
quote:
And finally, all participants -- including ad networks, search engines, Internet-service providers and others -- need to commit to those principles and agree to certification of compliance by an independent third-party. "We believe companies engaged in online behavioral advertising should agree to participate in a credible, third-party certification process to demonstrate to consumers that they are doing what they say with regard to the collection and use of information for online behavioral advertising," he said.
said by FFH5:

That these rules being considered by Congress should apply to all web sites as well as ISPs. Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, BBR, etc should also have to do the same thing - make use of user interaction OPT-IN. Most web sites don't even have an OPT-OUT policy, let alone an OPT-IN one.
I think that alike rules ought to apply to alike operations. For example, the rules about the www.verizon.net portal ought to be the same as for any other similar site on the net. It doesn't matter that Verizon is an ISP -- the rules for website data ought to be the same.

In so much as Verizon is also an ISP (a traffic carrier between the websites and the users), I think that the rules governing ISPs ought to match the rules for other ISPs -- but any increased scrutiny to ISPs would only apply to that traffic-carriage function. Their website wouldn't be any more regulated because they're also an ISP.

Right now, one of the big problems is that some ISPs are covered under the Communications Act, some under the Cable Act, and some conveyances aren't clearly under either. The ECPA, which was written to cover electronic communications, still is clouded in some of these cases!
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funchords
Hello
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Yarmouth Port, MA
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2 recommendations

said by dadkins:

No shocker for AT&T, but VZ and TW.
Not a shocker for VZ and TW. No company, no matter how fantastically benevolent or innocent, will ever tell the government that they need a regulation that restricts their future behavior.
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telcolackey5
The Truth? You can't handle the truth

join:2007-04-06
Death Valley, CA

Switch to FiOS!!!

...wait a minute, I must be in the wrong rant thread.

insomniac84

join:2002-01-03
Schererville, IN

If wallstreet taught us anything...

It's that if their isn't a law from stopping a company from doing something that will make them money, they will do it. Maybe the banking crisis will be used as leverage to get this law passed and net neutrality laws passed.

davefreedom

@ctc.com

wait just a minute here

If people can no longer make money selling your data, and showing you ads, then they're going to start charging you other ways. Are you really THAT pissed off that comcast can see your porn browsing history? Would you like to start paying per video to YouTube? (Maybe that's a bad example, but if the bottom falls out of the targeted advertising market, that's the kind of stuff you'll see.) Geez.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

But. . . . .

Theres no money in opt-in!
Px

join:2005-04-30

I got a better idea

If this comes to pass it would not surprise me if they offered a "slight" discount to your bill if you opt-in. Then of course raise rates in the next quarter citing some ridiculous need for more money and they are right back where they started plus making even more money.
--
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davefreedom

@ctc.com

Re: I got a better idea

That's the thing about regulation. It invites you to study it so that you can find your way around it. There are ALWAYS unintended consequences with regulations. The other problem with it is when you discover (in some of the cases only) that the cure was worse than the disease, you repeal the regulations, and instantly it appears that you're inviting everyone to do the thing that you originally tried to make them not do... now THAT is exactly what happened on wall street. Way back, someone decided that it was a good idea to close the ability of companies to be leveraged more than some arbitrary number (Capital to debt ratio) say it's 15/1. Then they came along with 'degregulation' which actually only opened up that loophole for 5 specific companies (far from runaway free market capitalism.) If you're working at one of those companies, or worse a lawyer for one of them, what do you do the very second they lift a regulation? You get to figuring out how you can exploit it. So they did. If this hole hadn't been 'plugged' to begin with, companies that were over leveraged would have just failed flat out if they made bad bets. But when the government decided to repeal the regulation they already made, it was apparently a stamp of approval for the behavior, that obviously didn't turn out to be a good idea.
Mele20
Premium
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Hilo, HI
kudos:5

1 edit

1 recommendation

What everyone seems to be missing here

What everyone seems to be missing here is that if companies like NetbuAd and Phorm are used by the ISPs it doesn't matter one whit whether or not they have the federal government or an independent agent watching. There is no such thing as opting in with Phorm and the others. Everyone is automatically opted in and that cannot be changed. If a user chooses to not "optin" (a misnomer) all that will mean is that their data which is still collected will not be used to show them specialized ads. But that data will still be collected and the browser will still be hijacked.

All the privacy problems will still exist and netbuAd or Phorm or Front Porch, etc. will still be able to sell your profile. The only thing they won't be able to do is show you targeted ads because they protected your privacy by requiring a sham optin. Everyone seems to forget, or not understand, that we are talking about Man in the Middle physical attack hardware. The ONLY answer that Congress can make that will protect users is that Deep Packet Inspection by ISPs for the purpose of targeting advertising to users or profiling users for the purpose of selling that information is FORBIDDEN.

The ISPs have NO business getting into this area at all. The ISPs have a specific, sacrosanct role to play in regards to the internet. Allowing them to use DPI for monetary gain will endanger the foundation and intent of the Internet.
--
"The same ferocity that our founders devoted to protect the freedom and independence of the press is now appropriate for our defense of the freedom of the internet. The stakes are the same: the survival of our Republic". Al Gore, The Assault on Reason