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June 26, 2008

Charter Calls Off Deep Packet Advertising Scheme, For Now

Charter Communications has suspended the controversial program where partner NebuAd would deep-scan packets to send targeted advertising to Charter customers.  While some reports consider the program dead, that may not be the case.  There were some rumblings that Charter would proceed once the privacy issues were sorted out.  That may be a big undertaking given the concerns raised by Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass) and Joe Barton (R-Tex) and the several public advocacy groups that attacked the plan.

Even talk of an opt-out mechanism did not seem assuring given that it would have to be exercised per browser per computer.  Should anyone clean out cookies, the opt out would have to be performed all over again.  The method of tracking users was also a bit icky as scripts were inserted into pages that would silently take the user to a hidden page that would set or read the cookie.  The methodology had the same transparency used by hackers to install malevolent software.  One could make the argument that the object here wasn't "malicious" given the notice that would be provided to Charter customers.  Still, one would expect that marketing such as this could be done with more up-front options for the consumer instead of making management easy for Charter and NebuAd and hard for the customer.

More on this from internetnews.com and eWEEK.

June 26, 2008 | Permalink

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