dslreports logo
site
spacer

spacer
 
   
spc
story category
Marketers, ISPs Fight To Prevent Privacy Protection Laws
Forge massive alliance aimed at protecting behavioral ad revenue
by Karl Bode 05:49PM Wednesday Jan 14 2009
Online Behavioral advertising firm NebuAd recently all but exploded, after Congress began asking whether their business model of paying ISPs to track user browsing data (to deliver more interest-tailored ads) violated privacy and wiretap laws. Once the media began asking questions about the legality of these systems, ISP partners began running to the hills, and Congress began exploring the idea of making all such systems opt in instead of opt out by law.

Fearing such laws would constrict their plans (and ad revenue) -- the marketing industry and ISP lobbyists -- with the FTC's help -- have been working on a voluntary set of guidelines for the sharing and sale of your online browsing activities. Verizon recently argued that tough consumer protection laws governing such systems aren't needed, because "public shame" would play a primary role in keeping ISPs and the marketing industry honest:
quote:
A couple of years back during the debate on net neutrality, I made the argument that industry leadership through some form of oversight/self-regulatory model, coupled with competition and the extensive oversight provided by literally hundreds of thousands of sophisticated online users would help ensure effective enforcement of good practices and protect consumers.
Verizon also argued that instead of tough laws, government could step in when needed to investigate privacy infractions on a case-by case basis. Of course ISPs have quietly been selling your browsing data without your consent for years, and haven't been shamed into stopping -- by and large because they deny they do it. Regulatory agencies also all too often fail to act because they're frequently staffed with lobbyists from the very industries they're supposed to be regulating.

While there's no indication voluntary measures will truly protect consumers from poor privacy practices, the proposal steams forward, and grew stronger this week. Four organizations representing the majority of the nation's marketing, advertising and ad-delivery companies announced an alliance aimed at convincing Washington they can protect American citizen privacy better than law ever could.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau have issued a statement saying that behavioral advertising "provides enormous benefits to consumers" while insisting it "is our responsibility as marketers to ensure the Web-surfing public’s privacy interests remain protected."

While that's sweet, consumer advocates say this is simply about protecting a hugely profitable revenue stream. "This is a transparent attempt to head off any meaningful consumer safeguards for online advertising," says the Center for Digital Democracy's Jeff Chester to Ad Age. Consumer advocates are heavily outgunned on this one though, meaning you'll probably never see an opt-out law protecting your clicks.

view:
topics flat nest 

Sr Tech
Premium
join:2003-01-19
Valhalla, NY

Yea And

So ISP's will change their TOS to force you to OPT IN when signing up then there will be the trouble of having to OPT OUT...
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
japan
kudos:2

Re: Yea And

Or ISPs will simply give you two choices of pricing plans: the opt-in plan be billed at the current levels while the opt-out plan costs $10/mth more. Which one do you think most of their customers will choose?
jc100

join:2002-04-10

Re: Yea And

Or congress and politicians (all) will buy this bullshit and pass the weakened bill / let it just die. We all know politicians are bought by how much lobbyists have to spend. Instead of picking our leaders, we should pick those who bribe them. At least then, we'd have a real role in decision making.

PapaMidnight

join:2009-01-13
Baltimore, MD

Re: Yea And

That was probably genius...
jc100

join:2002-04-10

Re: Yea And

Thanks. =)

baineschile
2600 ways to live
Premium
join:2008-05-10
Sterling Heights, MI

Eh...

Ads are going to flood me anyways; id rather have it be things that I am interested in.
Corydon
Cultivant son jardin
Premium
join:2008-02-18
Denver, CO

Re: Eh...

This. If it means that I no longer have to see ads from the Scooter Store (at least until I turn 60), AARP, or the Video Professor, I'm all for it.

/Good grief my TV viewing is boring....
--
"2 Strangers + 1 20 minute ceremony + $50 + 10 shots of tequila = Holy Matrimony and 1st Class Protections Under the Law… now that’s crazy!"

fireflier
Coffee. . .Need Coffee
Premium
join:2001-05-25
Limbo

Re: Eh...

And that flipping moron "Vince" peddling his ShamWow crap.
jvanbrecht

join:2007-01-08
Bowie, MD

Re: Eh...

Vince is atleast better then Willy Maze.. who yells at you the entire time to buy his products... Then there is the Snuggies ad... That one is a cult.... The Cult of Snuggies.. we will take over your minds and make you wear a backward opening robe with no underwear...

fireflier
Coffee. . .Need Coffee
Premium
join:2001-05-25
Limbo

Re: Eh...

Oh yes. Willy annoys the crap out of me. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a conversation with him?

Me: "Hi Willy"

Willy: "HI!!! HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY!!!!?!?!?!?!"

Me: "Um, fine, great weather isn't it?"

Willy: "YEAH, THERE'S A COLD FRONT COMING IN FROM THE EAST AND THERE'S A 40% CHANCE OF SNOW THIS EVENING". "ALSO, IF YOU LOOK AT YOUR THREE O'CLOCK, THERE'S A REALLY HOT BABE OVER THERE EYEING US!!!!!!"

Everyone in the room: [looks at Willy, then me, then the babe]

Me: "Um, I have to uh, go. . .over. . .there. . .now".
--
Tradition: Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid. --despair.com

SLD
Premium
join:2002-04-17
San Francisco, CA
Any while you're accepting this, accept that your browsing will be logged and analyized. Enjoy your lost privacy.

elboricua
El Subestimado
Premium
join:2001-08-12
Bronx, NY

Re: Eh...

said by SLD:

Any while you're accepting this, accept that your browsing will be logged and analyized. Enjoy your lost privacy.
It already is. ISP's sell this info already.

»en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clickstream
--
Sending script kiddies to /dev/null since 1995!
jaminus

join:2004-10-14
Arlington, VA

2 recommendations

Aren't these systems opt-in already?

Setting aside the ISP tracking issue (which, clearly, was quite egregious), almost all kinds of behavioral advertising are opt-in by nature.

Take Google. When you type in a search term and hit enter without paying them a dime or signing a contract, you're "opting-in" by essentially giving Google valuable marketing information about your IP address in exchange for the ability to use their undeniably cool services.

Same with Facebook. You get a cool service for free, but it's quite clear from the get-go that your information may be used to try to sell you stuff (albeit in a manner that is, for the most part, fairly innocuous).

I don't see why it should be illegal for marketers to collect information when you give it to them. When I voluntarily choose to give information to a third-party, unless stated otherwise, I should assume they will do whatever they want with it. Would you tell somebody on the street your date of birth in exchange for a piece of candy, and then turn around say they should be fined if they use that information for personal benefit? Of course not.

Firms should compete to provide privacy assurances. There are plenty of email services that don't read your mail--not even by machine. But they aren't free, because the revenue has got to come from somewhere. How is the free Internet supposed to grow if its primary source of funding--advertising--is handicapped by the government?
SilverSurfer1

join:2007-08-19

Re: Aren't these systems opt-in already?

said by jaminus:

I don't see why it should be illegal for marketers to collect information when you give it to them.

I'm going to stop you right there because your argument is a specious one. You're assuming that the public at large is aware of the information they're handing over, but since ISPs et al. actually go out of their way to deny and otherwise obfuscate the truth, how is it that anyone is supposed to know precisely what they're handing over? Stop making excuses for the bullshit and start understanding exactly what the issues are.
jaminus

join:2004-10-14
Arlington, VA

Re: Aren't these systems opt-in already?

I meant that when you use Google or Facebook or some sort of free website, then information mining shouldn't be illegal. ISP tracking is going too far, but it's s only one element of the overall behavioral advertising debate. It's doubtful that Congress would be so modest as to enact narrow legislation that applies just to ISPs.

insomniac84

join:2002-01-03
Schererville, IN

Re: Aren't these systems opt-in already?

Aggregate anonymized data is fine. There is nothing wrong with giving this data to a third party.

But I think they want to go much further than just aggregate data. They want individual browsing habits in REAL TIME with the ability to connect to the user for advertising purposes. Such as monitoring which IP you have and always linking your past and current browsing records to your current ip. So webpages running ads for them can relay the ip and receive a targeted ad to display. That is a very scary thing. It also means the ad agency has everything on file they need to identify you and most likely wouldn't give two shits about giving this information up to someone like the RIAA.

Like say an anonymous web comment makes the news for being offensive and the idiot offended is subpoenaing the web page for the IP address and time associated with the comment. The web page could have a privacy policy where they do not store identifying information. But if some third party company data mines everything you do online, all the offended person has to do is go to the ad company and have them run a query for the text and find the source IP and time of the posting that way. There is no chance a third party company is going to fight such a request or even care if the original web page involved had a privacy policy claiming IPs would not be logged.
Pv8man

join:2008-07-24
Hammond, IN
"Jaminus"

You completely missed the entire point.

We are not rallying against the idea of behavioral advertising.

It's the fact that it SHOULD BE opt-in ONLY.
Broadband consumers should NEVER have to be forced into this, it is absolutely wrong, and you know it.

Nobody forces you to use google.
jaminus

join:2004-10-14
Arlington, VA

Re: Aren't these systems opt-in already?

There's an argument to be made that when you send packets over your ISP, unless otherwise specified, you should assume any plaintext data will be used by your ISP for marketing purposes.

That doesn't mean that we're all doomed to have our ISPs tracking our every move. As long as people reject ISPs that do this sort of thing, there will be some providers that choose to go after the "privacy-conscious" consumer. And for those that don't have such ISPs as choices, encrypted tunnels make absolutely everything obfuscated--including URLs and keywords.

Now, the current state of broadband means the normal market response to privacy violators may not function properly. The solution to this is not more laws, but more choices. That means taking away power from oppressive franchise boards and freeing up the airwaves for entrepreneurial start-ups.

POB
Res Firma Mitescere Nescit
Premium
join:2003-02-13
Stepford, CA

Re: Aren't these systems opt-in already?

said by jaminus:

There's an argument to be made that when you send packets over your ISP, unless otherwise specified, you should assume any plaintext data will be used by your ISP for marketing purposes.

Says who and according to which law? Why do you persist in making asinine arguments in favor of having every movement tracked and every purchase recorded. WTF is wrong with you.
--
The Toll

Tracking Lord Stanley

anony101

@comcast.net

It will happen but

ISPs will succeed in implementing the behavioral technologies over time but by then we will also have implemented protocol encryption for all internet communications.
Roogryph

join:2005-07-02
Chardon, OH

solution

use firefox with adblockplus and noscript the isp ad scripts wont run therefore no tracking unless done with cookies but even cookies can be controlled easely

PapaMidnight

join:2009-01-13
Baltimore, MD

Re: solution

Always a cat and mouse game. AdBlock Plus can be easily punked. And NoScript can be sometimes more of a hassle than anything else.

hurryupalready

@bellsouth.net

Awful

When will the greed end? Why do we continue to put up with it in our society? We have been taught two very big and expensive lessons by the stock market recently, the dot com bust and the recent madoffwithitall money managers routine. When are we going to get honest people in large industries?

fireflier
Coffee. . .Need Coffee
Premium
join:2001-05-25
Limbo

Re: Awful

said by hurryupalready :

When are we going to get honest people in large industries?
When pigs fly.
--
Tradition: Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid. --despair.com

james1

join:2001-02-26
said by hurryupalready :

When are we going to get honest people in large industries?
That will happen when it's profitable to be honest. There was a time when people would shop at a store because they knew the owner was an honest person, they didn't care that it was a little bit more expensive because in the long run they saved money by not getting ripped off. Nowadays people will flock to the cheapest provider of the cheapest goods made in the cheapest way possible by the cheapest outsourced labor.

tkCapitalistPig

@comcast.net

STFU!

You people just don't get it!

If the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association and/or the Interactive Advertising Bureau members fail financially, us poor working slobs will have to pay for their government bailout.

Do you really want higher taxes? Sheeeesh!

PioneerISP

@ameritech.net

Not ISP's are alike.

I get tired of being lumped in with the other ISP's. I've been an ISP for more than a decade and I've never felt it was necessary to sell customers information, even with the phone companies trying to eat my lunch. I wish common sense didn't need to be legislated, but none of the big guys seem satisfied with huge profits from their near monopolies.
BarneyBadAss
Badasses Fight For Freedom
Premium
join:2004-05-07
00001

Ahhhh... it's so nice...

so many of my neighbors have unlocked open network systems... so when I look for this; that; or the next I use their systems; and when I look specifically for myself, I use my network.

Perhaps the opt-in / opt-out should be for everyone to have unsecured networks so it will cause the individualized data to become more cluttered and much more difficult to pick apart and associate with a specific user!
--
---Barney
centsofhumor

join:2007-01-20
Two Rivers, WI

Since when?

quote:
"public shame" would play a primary role in keeping ISPs and the marketing industry honest

What about the warrantless spying? "Public shame" didnt work.
jaminus

join:2004-10-14
Arlington, VA

Re: Since when?

First of all, warrantless spying is government coercion, a far different animal than if it were simply a ploy to make a few extra bucks.

And in one high-profile case, the threat of public shame didwork -- with Qwest. It resisted the government's requests and even may have lost certain lucrative contracts as a result, at least according to certain sources. Qwest's only real reason for saying no to the government was to maintain a reputation and look like a privacy-conscious carrier.

ctceo
Premium
join:2001-04-26
South Bend, IN

Time again.

Time to start advertising my timeshare costs via mass e-mail to the ad agencies again.
rmdir

join:2003-03-13
Chicago, IL

TMN

Install the Firefox plug TrackMeNot and really screw them up.
NefCanuck

join:2007-06-26
Mississauga, ON

Tracking data worthless in some cases?

Reading all this, I was struck by a thought (rare but it does happen )

I use a DSL connection at home from my provider Sympatico. My IP address is assigned dynamically as I use the connection.

So what useful information can they get from me specifically if the IP address of my machines are always changing?

I also run FF with AdBlock + and NoScript so if I undersatnd correctly they would get nothing from me that they could use to target ads to me anyways, am I right?

Now my work machine, dear god they could probably tell what kind of soap I used in the shower :P

NefCanuck

catseyenu
Ack Pfft
Premium
join:2001-11-17
Fix East

Chasing The Fast Buck Instead Of Providing Customer Service

ISP's have been infected with "Fast Buckitise" from the Marketers and bean counters.
Instead of doing real work like reliable billing, making service calls on time and problem resolution they've thrown in with the bastards that they should be zealously protecting their customer base from.
Fast and easy money, you know.. kind of like the financial industry.
Have they made their poor business model our responsibility by begging for tax payer funded bailouts yet?
The leeches are falling so fast I can't keep up with the handouts anymore.

FastiBook

join:2003-01-08
Newtown, PA

No.

How about no ok?

If someone wants to watch totally legal videos, look at news, buy stuff, let them, and don't watch. If someone posts hate speech, terroristic or other threats, then maybe take a peak (NSA has it covered).

ISP is a internet service provider, not a WAMCDWTIIPTWS-er what are my clients doing with the internet i provide them service-er.

- A
--
LETS GO METS!