Here comes the bus… and Google’s under it.
Several big ISP threw Google under the bus at a recent Senate hearing about targeted ads (from ARS Technica):
At today’s Senate hearing, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner all showed an interest in developing an industry consensus on behavioral targeting that includes affirmative (opt-in) consent from consumers. They would like to see this adopted by all behavioral targeters, though, including ad agencies and search engines, so that ISPs aren’t at a disadvantage in the market. Good luck with that.
There is are some very big difference between what Google, Yahoo, Cuil, and other search engines do compared with what ISP want to do with the abhorrent NebuAd and Phorm products.
Using a search engine is an opt-in choice by it’s very nature. If I want a search engine that I know serves up targeted ads and tracks my search choices I can use Google. If I am bothered by the behavioral tracking I can use Cuil. Users have little choice in their ISP. There may be some choices, but it’s usually limited to a small number.
The search engines are very open that they serve up ads. They are right on the page. What the ISPs want to do is very sneaky. They want to sell your preferences to other who will serve the ads. Most users won’t even know it was the ISP spying on their traffic.
The telcos have been granted valuable monopolies in exchange for government oversight of their practices. It’s time for the government to stand up and tell them no on behavioral tracking.