Your ISP may be selling your web clicks

At the Open Data 2007 Conference in New York, David Cancel, the CTO of the web market research firm Compete Incorporated, revealed that many Internet service providers make millions by selling the clickstream data, meaning every web site visited by each user and in which order they were clicked, of their users. The data is not sold with accompanying user name or information, but merely as a numerical user value. However, it is still theoretically possible to tie this information to a specific ISP account. Cancel said that this clickstream data is "much more comprehensive" than data that is normally gleaned through analyzing search queries.

Most tech-savvy users are aware that the Internet isn't exactly privacy heaven. Everything can be tracked. Nonetheless, ISPs that expect to profit from this data should at the very least inform their users that they are doing so. Some US Congressmen are calling for new laws to be enacted to protect the privacy of Internet users. For his part, David Cancel says he "strongly supports an increase in the methods and degree to which disclosure is communicated," not only for clickstream data but for any kind of data collected on users' personal surfing habits. He stated that "all users should be informed explicitly when their data can be sold to a third party."

News source: Ars Technica

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7 Comments

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Hmmm....

I don't care much for this idea, but if my ISP (which is also my phone company) wants to sell my clicks, and it ultimately results in a lower tubes bill, then I guess I won't bitch about something I can't really change anyway.

However, I'll have to think about this some more.

Davind has a funny last name. :)

To #1 - the problem would likely be that they say they don't sell any 'personally identifiable information', and then this article says it is theoretically possible.

(CheeseCow said @ #2)
Davind has a funny last name. :)

awesome last name. He'd be a sweet hitman

"the name is Cancel, Daniel Cancel. Prepare to be cancelled."

Hardly news...I'm pretty sure if you actually read the T&C's you agree to when you signup for your internets it will be mentioned in there. Most ISP's have a privacy policy

TurboTuna said,
Hardly news...I'm pretty sure if you actually read the T&C's you agree to when you signup for your internets it will be mentioned in there. Most ISP's have a privacy policy

My ISP didn't give me anything to sign. I called them, told them to hook me up, they came out and gave me the modem, tested it, and left. The only thing I ever got was a higher bill the next month.