back to article American cable giant joins data pimping club

Charter Communications, the eighth largest ISP in the States, has jumped into bed with NebuAd, a behavioral ad targeting firm along the lines of Phorm and Front Porch. As reported by The New York Times, Charter will begin testing NebuAd's service sometime over the next month, with an eye towards tracking the search and …


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  1. Joseph
    Thumb Down


    And what happens if you have bandwidth caps? Does these adds use it up as well?

    Will those that don't opt out get a reduction in price to their Internet?

    What about privacy concerns?

    And also I would like to know where ISPs got this idea that they are entitled to 10000% return on investment?

    You don't see phone companies listening in to your calls to target telemarketing calls to you. Why should this be any different?

    Funny thing is back in the days of dial-up nobody could pull stunts like these because people could quickly switch to a competitor.

    When it comes to high speed, providers essentially have quasi monopolies (often times you only have 2 choices: cable or DSL). Even when you sing up with a ma and pa internet provider, they are just essentially reselling their service. It kinda reminds me of the good old days of 1 telephone companies. But at least back then they where heavily regulated by the government to prevent them from abusing their monopolies. I don't understand why they have not done the same with ISP that are essentially in the same position again.

    This civilization is quickly going to shit....

  2. Paul Delaney

    "opt-out has become the norm for all targeting on the Internet."

    Has it?

    Not in the UK m8 - or Europe come to think of it...

    Oh of course - I forgot there's fuck all east of New York until you reach a country with some oil wells!

    Silly me

  3. Devil's Advocate

    The default is always "opt-out"

    "opt-out has become the norm for all targeting on the Internet."

    I just love that statement. (Well, not really.)

    And just HOW did opt-out "become" taken as a "norm", and by WHOM?!...

    1) Because marketers WANT that to be the case, and can't wrap their heads around the more respectful concept of OPT-IN, only MARKETERS take it as a norm.

    2) Because marketers continue to play it that way, hoping one day everyone will just accept it as normal.

    3) Because opt-out creates so many false (unwanted) leads that help to justify their existence.

    4) Because opt-out helps to "justify" another practice that only marketers think is an acceptable "norm"... collecting personal info without actual consent!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to set up some alliances!

    Anyone in the US who hates this idea, have a look at the following :-


    Same old sh*te, different company. Drop in and say hello. Time to work together over all of this.

  5. Edward Clarke
    Paris Hilton

    Sounds like a business opportunity

    It might be profitable to run a secure proxy server in a central data center. Encrypt the communications between the customer and the proxy, Put the proxy right in (or near) one of the network backbone interconnect nodes. This wouldn't necessarily be an anonymizing proxy, it'd just be one that wouldn't inject advertisements.

    Maybe call it ""?

    Paris, because she has higher moral standards than most marketeers.

  6. Steve Sorensen

    American Phorm in the UK, now back in the USA

    *sigh* Short answers for the non-UK newcomers.

    * The issue of opting in/out, or cookies thereof, is simply a red herring.

    * The problem is the unilateral "deep packet inspection" (DPI) or otherwise intercept of -your- traffic by -your- ISP. For whatever (business) reason -your- ISP presumes necessary, without a judicial warrant.

    * No FF plugin will protect against this interception. (NoScript/AdBlock is *not* the answer here.)

    Call -your- ISP and avow "Do. Not. Want." Then prepare to move to a more knowledgable ISP. (Or set up a SSL/VPN-based default route therethrough.)

    That is all.

  7. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Thumb Down

    These Gimboids always make the wrong assumption...

    ...that I use the Internet to BUY THINGS. I rarely do that. If I search for "War in Iraq" it doesn't mean I want to buy one of my own!

    Repeat after me: (STILL) DO NOT WANT

  8. Pierre

    How is this even remotely legal?

    " I am writing to inform you of an enhancement coming soon to your mail reading experience via [choose your snail-mail company of choice] service. While continuing to deliver the same fast and reliable mail service you’ve always received, innovative new technology enables us to provide you with an enhanced mail reading experience that is more customized to your interests and activities.

    As a result, the advertising you typically see in your mailbox will better reflect the interests you express through your letters to your friends, family and bank. You will not receive more ads - just ads that are more relevant to you."

    Of course, we will have to open and read every single letter that you send or receive, but trust us, it's for your own good.

    If you are a retard that doubts the benefits of this improved service, you can send us a hand-written letter and we won't spy on you. Of course, if you happened to change the way you write, or the paper you use, or the colour of your ink, we would be entitled to resume our normal and legitimate spying activities.

    Sincerely yours,

    U. Pyourass

    Sounds like a joke, right? Well, it ain't one.

  9. dervheid


    "an enhancement coming soon to your web browsing experience"

    Utter Bullshit!

  10. stizzleswick

    Opt-out the norm?

    Not in most of Europe; at least in several countries, opt-in is even required by law...

  11. Alex

    "the norm"

    The norm? what a load of bollocks!

    how could a precedent be considered set when clearly even the UK Home Office has stated that "the norm" MUST be Opt-In only!



  12. Brett Brennan

    Easy way to stop this nonsense

    This isn't rocket science. The only way an ISP benefits from doing this monitoring is if they can sell it to someone. And companies will only buy if they see measurable value in it.

    So, solving this is really simple. Never respond to the adverts. Ever.

    When advertisers discover that the click-through rate is decreasing, they will stop paying for the service. When this happens enough, the ISP will stop using the equipment, as this is a cost that they can't pay for.

    If you can't see 'em, you can't click 'em: Using a local hosts file (like the one available from helps prevent "the usual suspects" from delivering adverts to your computer. This works about 99% of the time.

    In addition, things like NOSCRIPT or other advert blockers will also prevent the adverts from being displayed.

    ON THE OTHER HAND...most computer users are so stupid that they would complain to the ISP if adverts STOPPED taking over their browser.

    I don't know why I bother writing these really doesn't matter, does it?

  13. Brett Brennan
    Paris Hilton

    And how quickly will this get p0wnd?

    Here's another thought: get a bot on a lot of PCs that keeps sending search requests for big todgers, pairs hilton, etc. so that some poor schmuck ends up with all their "targeted" adverts being the same as their spam?

    Hey, that'd work pretty well, wouldn't it?

  14. Slaine

    to all registered companies in UK and USA

    "I am writing to inform you of an enhancement coming soon to my current account. In the future, 0.01% of all your financial transactions will be required to be forwarded to me, I won't SPEND the money, I just want just "hold" it for a few days to see what interest develops, after all, all anyone really wants is to know what I'm interested in don't they - it's not like they are actually STEALING anything. Obviously, you have the right to opt out of this, once in a lifetime opportunity but I am sure that once you see the smile on my face you will find it difficult to resist.

    Should you wish to opt out, send a cookie (chocolate chip preferably) to "El Reg" in London England. If you fail to send me this cookie, or if it gets eaten, the original deal will be resumed and the 0.01% temporary bank redirection scim will be deemed to be legitimate."

    Now then - IF there is any legality to this "interception" lark, the statement above is equally valid. As such it is now up to the companies involved to actively remove themselves from my scheme. I look forward in the very near future to VAST billions in my bank and a veritable MOUNTAIN of chocolate chip cookies should arrive at Vulture Central - ENJOY my pretty ones !!!

  15. andy

    I don't understand...

    So these systems don't show MORE ads, just targeted ads.

    Excuse my arrogance but does this mean that ads embedded in a web page, that a company has paid to display, will be removed and replaced by these Phorm style Ads?

    Surely that's going to p*** off the original advertisers as well as any self respecting user that likes to retain an ounce of privacy...


    Solution for web masters, the new opt-in parasites.txt standard;

  17. Dan Daniels

    Opt-out of what?

    The article says that we can opt-out using a local cookie. That means we cannot opt-out of the deep-packet-inspection, only the delivery of targeted advertisements, yes? I don't know about anyone else, but it really ticks me off that my ISP plans on inspecting the *content* of every packet I send and receive. Unfortunately, I live 250m too far from the telephone exchange to switch to DSL.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "So these systems don't show MORE ads, just targeted ads."


    "Excuse my arrogance but does this mean that ads embedded in a web page, that a company has paid to display, will be removed and replaced by these Phorm style Ads?"

    No. Phorm is associated with a specific "brand" "OIX-exchange" or somesuch of adserver. Folk who sign up to have that "ring" display their ads will do so on the expectation that they will be displayed to people who are interested more often than if they use another service which knows nothing about the browsing habits (and interests inferred therefrom) of people visiting the sites where the owners have allowed OIX exchange to occupy screen real-estate in the expectation of being paid when a visitor to their site clicks on the OIX-supplied ad. Site owners will expect there to be more clicks on OIX ads because they're "better targeted".

    "Surely that's going to p*** off the original advertisers as well as any self respecting user that likes to retain an ounce of privacy..."

    Everyone but the hapless surfer whose every site visit is logged and analysed benefits: the advertiser gets more responses, the site owner gets more clickthough payments, the ISP gets a fee from OIX for allowing the spying and Phorm/OIX make more money because they're more efficient.

    In theory.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    i want to know

    How can they anonymize the IP info they are collecting and still send targeted ads back to YOU? They can only collect all possible information and process and deep packet will only be the start of it. Heaven help you, but your family using the same pc will be getting all your ads most likely even if they have different sign-ons and email addresses since you will have the same IP (and they may, or may not understand about opting-in or opting-out, or simply mis-key their option and never go back to fix it). Won't matter since the gubmint will be looking at all of it anyway.

  20. Snert Lee

    Bad Bad Bad ISP

    Off the cuff, it just seems that this plan would immediately run afoul of any law based on reasonable expectations of privacy.

    The stated plan of delivering more "personalized" ads based on the gleanings of packet inspection, probably from a third party, back to the originating user would seem to clearly negate any pretense of "no personally identifiable information".

    It should be relatively easy to construct analogies to surface mail which would readily communicate the inherent wrongness in this scheme. Not only are they reading all your mail inside the envelope, but their monitoring your magazines and catalogs, not only which ones you get, but how long you spend looking at any one page therein.

    This makes it far more invasive and personal than if it were merely some thug steaming open the letters that pass through your mailbox.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Easy way to stop this nonsense

    How about a global "don't click" day to get the ball rolling?

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