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U.S. Congress Expresses Interest in Web Privacy

     
6:01 pm on Aug 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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U.S. Congress Expresses Interest in Web [nytimes.com]Privacy
On Aug. 1, four top members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent letters ordering 33 cable and Internet companies, including Google, Microsoft, Comcast and Cox Communications, to provide details about their privacy standards. That followed House and Senate hearings last month about privacy and behavioral targeting, in which advertisers show ads to consumers based on their travels around the Web.

One of the controversial new behavioral-targeting technologies is called deep packet inspection, and a company that does it NebuAd was a focus of the July Congressional hearings.

Not all the same [mediapost.com]

In response to a Congressional inquiry, Google told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Friday that it saw a difference between behavioral targeting company NebuAd, which harvests data from Internet service providers, and other online ad companies.

"Given your Committee's recent focus on deep-packet inspection in connection with advertising, we feel it important to state clearly and for the record that Google does not deliver advertising based on deep-packet inspection," the company said in a letter to Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John Dingell (D-Mich.), Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.). "We understand that many of the questions that you have posed to us and a number of other companies stem from concerns about that particular model for online advertising, but we believe that the vast majority of online advertisers--like Google--is not engaged in these practices."

6:21 pm on Aug 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google doesn't need to do deep packet inspection because thanks to Google Search being the dominant search engine and Google AdSense and Google Analytics being on nearly every web site in the world, Google knows where everyone goes already.

Let's call it Deep Web Inspection and toss out that word packet.

I have NoScript installed in Firefox and no longer allow Google Analytics to track my movements on the web, nor anything else except old fashioned server logs.

7:27 pm on Aug 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The House Committee should examine multiple ad targeting technologies if they're truly concerned about privacy -- not just deep packet inspection methods.

Technologies such as Geolocation would also be of interest. Geolocation allows publishers and advertising platforms to know your actual location when viewing content. While this has only been of fuzzy local accuracy in the past, the introduction of other data tracking types -- particularly the increase in GPS enabled computers and triangulation data from mobile devices -- allow tracking and pinpointing of individual users' locations to be far more precise.

incrediBILL's point is valid, too -- Google's omnipresence on the internet provides them with sufficient data to really begin other forms of behavioral targeting as well.

7:51 pm on Aug 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Geolocation allows publishers and advertising platforms to know your actual location when viewing content.

That technology has it's limitations.

When I'm on Comcast cable they get pretty close, within 3 miles ;)

However, when at home and I'm using my wireless broadband connection the geo location thinks I'm in San Deigo where the proxy server resides, or somewhere about 600 miles from where I'm sitting.

Besides, you can always use a Tor proxy, or any anonymous proxy really, to defeat GeoIP altogether.

8:55 pm on Aug 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I would love for them to go after and close down companies such as HitWise, which happens to be owned by the credit reporting company Experian (formerly TRW).

From what I understand they have probes in the majority of ISP here in the US, so look at all that personal web browsing information going to the same company that screws up your credit report(s).

Just shut them down.

Jeff

3:40 pm on Aug 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"Given your Committee's recent focus on deep-packet inspection in connection with advertising, we feel it important to state clearly and for the record that Google does not deliver advertising based on deep-packet inspection," the company said in a letter to Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John Dingell (D-Mich.), Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.).

Sounds like scrambling to keep the government out of their business. Obviously Google doesn't want anyone to know the extent of information they have and how they really gather it.
But, big corporations own government, so nothing will come of this.

[edited by: phranque at 6:15 am (utc) on Aug. 14, 2008]
[edit reason] tidying [/edit]

5:08 am on Aug 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

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no longer allow Google Analytics to track my movements on the web, nor anything else except old fashioned server logs.

hmm...let's see...internet was developed by military...right...soooo....I guess there's a record of you browsing that adult site somewhere after all.

Google is not the only play in town. What surprises me is that the "government" actually did something, so I guess they need to pretend they earn their living.

By now only lazy and poor are not collecting data.

[edited by: phranque at 6:26 am (utc) on Aug. 14, 2008]
[edit reason] tidying [/edit]