back to article ISPs laud their data pimping services but refuse to use them

Another American ISP has frozen its plans to embrace behavioral ad targeting. Massillon Cable TV, an ISP serving roughly 30,000 people in the great state of Ohio, says it was preparing to roll out behavioral ad technology from Silicon Valley start-up Front Porch, but as Congress continues to scrutinize the privacy implications …


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  1. Nate Amsden Silver badge


    What did they discover dsniff? Sounds like a router mirroring traffic to a system running urlsnarf if all they are capturing is urls.

    Since urlsnarf outputs in an apache-sytle log format they could import the logs into lots of different tools to find the most popular things. Really makes it easy to get the urls. mailsnarf equally easy to capture SMTP traffic in an easy to read form.

  2. Steve

    Weasel Words

    "In order to adhere to wiretapping laws, we only listen to one-side of the conversation," he says. In other words, the system knows what addresses you visit, but it doesn't see the actual data you retrieve.

    Surely, for the majority of browsing that amounts to the same thing. It's like saying, "We're not monitoring the contents of the books you're reading, we're just logging the ISBNs."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish there a way to foul up their metrics...

    In an attempt to make their executive management extremely nervous, like an automatic search for vital statistics on their upper echelon or set up a script to continuously sweep their competitions residential service offerings 30 times a second.


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Get rid of the data spying data parasite

    "In order to adhere to wiretapping laws, we only listen to one-side of the conversation," he says. In other words, the system knows what addresses you visit, but it doesn't see the actual data you retrieve."

    What a joke, if that is all they are doing, why do they need deep packet inspection?

    The biggest worry the UK has yet to realise on mass that this is possibly happening here in the UK with the WebWise/Phorm/BT system.

    It's illegal yet BT still bury their head in the sand and claim they have taken legal advice.

    In the world of academia people publish papers to allow the world to question their finding. In BT's case they do not answer any of the critics asking them to publish the papers that have supposedly been written that justifies their claims.

    BT please tell us in more than one sentence (one liner statement) why the Phorm/Webwise system is legal in UK laws. Allow experts to debate your claims.

    Either publish your legal case of take your head out of the sand and rid yourself of the data parasite.

    Paris because she knows how bad it can be when you lose your privacy.

  5. Robb Topolski
    Thumb Down

    Survey Says?!

    April 4, 2008: "Front Porch collects detailed Web-use data from more than 100,000 U.S. customers through their service providers, Maxson said." -- 'Every Click You Make' By Peter Whoriskey; Washington Post at

    July 7 2008: "Front Porch CEO Zach Britton also tells us that the system never went live." -- 'ISPs laud their data pimping services but refuse to use them' By Cade Metz; ElReg at

  6. Sam


    Phorm's share price is dropping...

  7. ilago

    There is no such thing as completely anonymous data

    The Netflix de-anonymiser technology demonstrates this perfectly. The algorithms can be applied to any set of "anonymous" data, small datasets and quite large datasets.

    The promises of NebuAd, Phorm and their spyware related associates are not just empty they are deceitful. Liars, liars, pants on fire!!!!!

  8. Robin Bradshaw

    Grisoft were right!

    Grisoft, the makers of AVG anti virus, were right.

    Their linkscanner software that attempts to download the entire internet and scan it for viri/trojans/other malware is obviously what we need to hide our browsing amongst the massive volume of downloading that linkscanner does.

    Huzzah for AVG unintentionally making the internet safe from phorm

  9. Tony

    AVG LinkScanner

    Perhaps we should ask AVG to revert LinkScanner to inspecting all pages before a user clicks them? That way anyone running it would provide the Spy-S-Ps with huge amounts of spurious data...

  10. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    NebuAd ignores their own email.

    A few days ago I attempted to request some information from NebuAd.

    (I wanted to verify their opt-out status & needed a copy of their ToS in order to do so.)

    The email (cc'd to all the email address' listed on their contact page) has come back to me multiple times as failed.

    Their *internal server* rejects the address' listed here ( as invalid/unknown.

    Let me say that again, just to make it clear.

    NebuAd is bouncing their own published email address' as invalid.

    All of them.

    Either they are incompetent in configuring their own email server, or they are deliberately rejecting their email.

    (And remember, since this includes emails to their "Sales" address.

    This implies they aren't interested in potential customers contacting them.)

    So, even if they weren't scum before, now they're incompetent scum.

    Way to go NebuAd!


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who thought of it first?

    Which on of these parasite companies thought of pimping data directly from the ISP first?

    Will they be sueing the others later on when the business is established for breaching their Intellectual Property?

  12. Peter White
    Paris Hilton

    BT are you watching and listening

    the US is pulling behavioural advertising systems because of legal and privacy issues and yet you push ahead with phorm and BT WebWise.

    wake up, smell the coffee, your customers do not want it, it seems BT employees are uneasy about it if you read cable forum (which i am sure you do) the only people who want it are board members on fat cat salaries linked to profits and targets.

    carry on and watch both fail when you start losing customer base due to BT WebWise (Web Lies) the anti phishing was only added to TRY and comply with PERC so it has a "VALUE ADDED SERVICE" but what value is a service that current browsers and security software do better than BT WebWise???

    the public are on to you BT,

    for those not sure what i am on about look at it is very informatative and answers the question BT will not tell you about

    got to be paris as she knows a data pimp when she sees one


  13. Anonymous Coward

    PR lies again

    "Front Porch wanted to make sure that there weren't any privacy issues"...

    Thats quite untrue, there is obviously privacy issues of some form... what Front Porch wanted to be sure of is that there is no LEGAL issues.

    Its like charity muggers asking for a minute of your time when they really want a direct debit every month.

    If only we could have a "no lies in advertising" law... it would solve so many things like the various definitions we are given for "unlimited", "forever" (Asda), "Legal" (BT) .. etc

  14. Anonymous Coward

    @I wish there a way to foul up their metrics...

    How about a benign bot, constantly visiting a list of sites, from random address with the ISP's range?/

  15. Dan Silver badge


    Such a program has been written for Phorm ISPs, I suppose it also works for other ISPs, however there are questions about how effective it is.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too easy

    You can't help but think that all these ISPs are rolling over a little too easily. Are they 'waiting for clarity', or for a governmental shoo-in on the quiet when everyones looking the other way.

  17. Mike

    Only the ads we want

    That would be none, thank you. Where is the button for that. I didn't sign up for a fscking ad service, all I wanted was an ip address and a green light on my dsl/cable modem.

    I never want to see my isp's website, use their e-mail, build a web page there, or any of the other fluff. Just give me an ip address, a decent connection, and leave me alone.

  18. Claire Rand


    you, the web site owner, get no say in all this, this is a known issue etc.

    if there is a way for the site to detect these bottom feeders they are sunk, so yuo can just go on the IP, if its going to an infected ISP...

    modify your page, to include a small banner on *every* page warning the user of the presence of this malware, and if the ISP provides the user with an 'opt out' link, make sure to include a hyperlick to that page, for the user to click nice and simple.

    anyone this irritates can block that specific banner easy enough, but make it small enough and they may not bother.

    of course if something like AVG 'accidentally' follows that link and opts the user out.. meah... not my problem guv

  19. Bob. Hitchen

    'F' em

    Yeah I've loaded Tor and every other method I can find for Linux. Somebody wants to track my surfing habits then I'll make it as difficult as possible. It's slower but who cares. The results are interesting and google don't like some scans. Nice thing is it can be turned on and off. I don't do on-line banking only mugs offer the keys to the strongroom. ISP's are a security risk.

  20. has armor

    the tap

    What kind of mickey mouse legal advice is Front Porch getting? US federal wiretapping laws (18 usc 2511) are single party consent to monitor, and most states are too. I wonder why they really only monitor 1 side of the conversation? Im thinking its a tech issue.

  21. Roger Heathcote

    And what do we have on this thing? A Cuisenart!?

    "In order to adhere to wiretapping laws, we only listen to one-side of the conversation,"

    Oh for chrissake do we NOT have these kinds of laws in the UK or something!? Or did that all disappear with RIPA?

    @Claire Rand...

    "modify your page, to include a small banner on *every* page warning the user of the presence of this malware, and if the ISP provides the user with an 'opt out' link, make sure to include a hyperlick to that page, for the user to click nice and simple."

    Yes that's a good idea. I might have a go at that :) Anyone got any ideas on how to detect if phorm is active on a particular browser? Is there a way to maybe use JS to see if phorm's cookies are installed or are details not known yet? Hmm, maybe I should volunteer to be part of their test program!

    Anyone else coming to the protest on the 16th?

    Roger Heathcote.

  22. Anonymous Coward


    My MP forwarded a letter to me that he received from Jacqui Smith confirming that in her view no one was acting illegally. I wrote back to my MP suggesting that Ms Smith was being ingenuous as it seemed to me that HM gov were simply waiting for the results of the BT-Phorm trials to introduce a similar system. Since then, NuLabour have advertised plans to make ISPs give them data on our browsing/emailing even though it would duplicate what Echelon has been doing since the Cold War era. Just a thought, but if governments cannot protect us/themselves from hackers using wiretapping techniques, how can they protect us against the turrists under our beds?

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