April 10, 2007
I use Comcast for my high-speed Internet access, so I wasn’t pleased to learn that Comcast was selling its customers’ online browsing history (“clickstream”) to anyone willing to pay for that info. Here are some excerpts from a transcript of a roundtable discussion at last month’s OpenData 2007 Conference, in New York City:
“Seth: So for 40 cents, Comcast is selling what of mine? They are selling… my entire clickstream?
“David: Your entire clickstream, and some user info that identifies you. So if 123 is your user ID per the time that you’re a Comcast customer, and your entire clickstream.
“Audience member: So that’s essentially the same [as the] AOL data [sale issue] that there was a lot of furor over.
“David: It’s beyond that.
“Audience member: It’s way beyond that…
“David: When I see some of the information that our client have on users, it seems a lot more scary to me than what you can gain from clickstream information. It might just be me, I might be numb to the clickstream information. But some of the credit card information that we know some people are capturing is a lot more scary…than some of the exhaust on the clickstream side…
“David: We get clickstream information, basically like the history looks like in your browser. We don’t get the underlying information like what kind of videos have been played or [other] rich elements. Although…it is available.”