In mining user data, US ISPs must weigh cash vs. privacy

In mining user data, US ISPs must weigh cash vs. privacy

U.S. internet service providers are about to face temptation.Now that the broadband privacy rule repeal is almost certain, will they sell their custom

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U.S. internet service providers are about to face temptation.

Now that the broadband privacy rule repeal is almost certain, will they sell their customers’ data to marketers, or will they keep it private?

The U.S. broadband industry is telling consumers not to worry. Verizon, for instance, said that it remains committed to protecting users’ privacy.

What that exactly means is unclear, and some in the industry are skeptical.

Major broadband providers will be enticed to monetize their customers’ data in ad-heavy ways, said Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic, a small ISP in California.

He should know. Jasper routinely receives pitches from marketing firms that want to use his ISP to serve his customers targeted ads. The catch: the marketing firms want to monitor every user, to learn their internet habits, and what they’ll likely buy.  

“That’s the temptation facing carriers and advertisers,” he said. “The carrier is the one point where everybody’s internet behavior can be observed.”

Although Jasper’s ISP is focused on protecting customers’ privacy, one man’s nightmare may be another man’s dream. Other broadband providers have been known to claim their advertising efforts, produce better, relevant ads for consumers, despite the data collection.    

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