Congress wants info on web data mining

This summer’s NebuAd drama has created more angst in Congress and spawned yet another probe of Internet providers. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is looking into how telcos, cablecos and ISPs collect and track information about their customers’ web habits.

Nearly three dozen companies were sent a letter asking them to describe any of their targeted Internet practices and how they chose consumers to be targeted. In all, the letters—which must be responded to by Friday—asked 11 questions.

“In order for us to better understand how companies may be engaged in efforts to target Internet advertising, the impact of such efforts on consumers, and broader public policy implications, we respectfully request that you provide specific answers…,” wrote the letter signed by Chairman John D. Dingell and Rep. Joe Barton of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Chairman Edward J. Markey and Rep. Cliff Stearns of the Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee.

AOL, AT&T, Bresnan Communications, Bright House Networks, CableOne, Cablevision, Cbeyond, CenturyTel, Charter, Citizen Communications, Comcast, Covad, Cox, Earthlink, Google, Insight, Knology, Level 3, Mediacom, Microsoft, PAETEC, Qwest, RCN, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable, tw telecom, WideOpenWest, TDS Telecom, United Online, Windstream Communications, Verizon, XO Communications, and Yahoo! All received the letters.

“Privacy is a cornerstone of freedom,” Markey said in a statement. “Online users have the right to explicitly know when their broadband provider is tracking their activity and collecting potential sensitive and personal information,” he added.

For more:
- See the story in PC Magazine

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