Charter Abandons Packet Monitoring Advertising Plan

Charter Communications has announced that it will no longer be attempting to target advertising based on user actions. The original strategy would have involved inspecting the contents of every packet sent or received by the customer. This usage pattern is associated with a specific IP and relevant ads are displayed on sites using NebuAd when that IP visits. NebuAd doesn’t directly share the IP, but we’ve seen in the past, even with obfuscation, a user’s search patterns alone have been known to give away their identity. The majority of all internet traffic is plaintext, but endusers have an expectation of privacy. User backlash is what eventually caused Charter to back down, but that doesn’t mean companies like NebuAd are going to be any less common.

[via EFF]
[photo: mattdork]

3 thoughts on “Charter Abandons Packet Monitoring Advertising Plan

  1. YAY! My ISP did something right! Thank you Charter! At least Charter listened to it’s users and realized that we did not want our packets monitored by them. Hopefully other ISP’s will follow and not invade users’ privacy by inspecting packets and selling information to advertising companies.

  2. I heard about this recently in the podcast “Security Now!” and thought it is absolutely ridiculous.

    Besides the security implications, wouldn’t this slow the network down a considerable amount? Maybe the official wording would be something like “a fraction of a second” but that’s a long time when it comes to network traffic… I can’t imagine using a network with one of these monitoring tools for something like online gaming, the delay would have to be by several hundred milliseconds for all the sniffing, wouldn’t you think?

    Anyway, I’m on Road Runner cable and hopefully they’ll be smart. I’ve liked them in the past because they are one of few providers that let you host on port 80; perhaps they’ll continue being nonrestrictive and noninvasive by not installing one of these spy boxes…

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