September 29, 2008

How Would You Know? [9:07 am]

I mean, pledges are nice and all, but how would you know the firm is complying? Sounds like an interesting engineering systems design problem: AT& T, Verizon to Refrain From Tracking Users Onlinepdf

AT&T and Verizon, two of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, pledged yesterday to refrain from tracking customer Web behavior unless they receive explicit permission to do so.

The announcement, made at a Senate committee hearing, represents a challenge to the rest of the Web world, where advertising is commonly delivered by companies that record a consumer’s visits across multiple Web sites. The practice, known as “behavioral targeting,” is largely invisible to customers and generally done without their consent.

“Verizon believes that before a company captures certain Internet-usage data . . . it should obtain meaningful, affirmative consent from consumers,” said Thomas J. Tauke, Verizon executive vice president.

AT&T’s chief privacy officer Dorothy Attwood made a similar pledge to legislators, and then, taking aim at Google she noted that AT&T’s promise to get consumer consent is an advance over others in the industry.

The Broadband Providers and Consumer Privacy hearing testimony:

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