Charter drops plan to track Web usage

It is supposed to be the age of the personalized experience, and most broadband service providers are intent on delivering personalized services, right down to the ads involved. It's not a new idea, and it makes sense, right? Show customers ads that fit with their interests and tendencies, and both the customer and the advertisers win; but we are also in the age of the privacy wars, with advertisers and all kinds of service and product providers willing to test the limits of how customers define their own privacy.

Cable TV firm Charter Communications may have reached those limits and appears to be turning back. The company had been working with deep packet inspection vendor NeBuAd on a plan to track the online usage of some of its broadband users in order to deliver more targeted, personalized ads to them. However, customers and politicians in the markets where the practice was aimed have raised enough concerns about the program and the effectiveness of its opt-out policy that Charter is dropping the idea--at least for now.

DPI has much promise as a traffic management technology, and while more carriers are turning to it, it also comes with a dark side. Service providers will need to be abundantly clear exactly how they plan to use it.

For more:
- read this article at The New York Times
see this post at GigaOM