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March 16, 2007

Your Web Trail is For Sale

Are your Internet sessions private?  Of course not.  But since there seems to be no consequences for browsing, even for prurient content, most people don't pay attention to whether their search habits are recorded and to what level of detail.  Now a report in Ars Technica says that at least one marketing research company is buying clickstreams from ISPs.  These are anonymized lists of of web sites visited by an individual user, the pages they visit, and the individual clicks in the order in which they are issued.  This information is more valuable than search data as it provides surfing habits irrespective of searches.  No individual ISP selling data was identified by the story, but it appears to be more than an isolated practice. 

If one thing, the story places a value on how much a record of surfing habits is worth: 40 cents per user per month.  That's a a nice amount of change for ISPs with a large subscriber base.  Will most people change their surfing habits based on this revelation.  Probably not, as no one warns what goes on behind the mouse.

March 16, 2007 | Permalink


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Any comment on why this is not a violation of federal trap & trace prohibitions?

Posted by: Ethan | Mar 19, 2007 3:27:18 PM

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