Is Your ISP Marketing You?

Ars Technica has a very provocative story, claiming that Your ISP may be selling your web clicks:

David Cancel, the CTO of the web market research firm Compete Incorporated, raised eyebrows at the Open Data 2007 Conference in New York when he revealed that many Internet service providers sell the clickstream data of their users. Clickstream data includes every web site visited by each user and in which order they were clicked.

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 told Ars that his company licenses the data from ISPs for millions of dollars.

If this is true, I think consumers will rightly be upset to learn that they're being spied on by their ISPs, even if the data is not easily tied to them. And I can't even begin to understand what ISPs were thinking about doing this without disclosing it. If it's true.

I'd call Bell South and ask them, but somehow I doubt that the call center has a script for this one.

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