NebuAd CEO gets grilled on The Hill

Eventually, it seems, we'll all make an appearance before a Senate or House subcommittee on something or other. This week's guest of honor in front of a Senate sub: Robert Dykes, the CEO of NebuAd, a company catching all kinds of flak for software that collects info on individual's Web surfing habits, then delivers targeted ads to users based on their wanderings.

More than a few cablecos and telcos operating ISPs have been champing at the bit for the opportunity to use NebuAd to drive additional online revenues their way, but privacy advocates have hopped all over this bandwagon, and it's having a tough time getting going. So far, CenturyTel, Charter Communications and a handful of other hopefuls (about a dozen in all) have stopped testing it after protests from customers or appeals from privacy advocates, including a couple of senators. But it's definitely whetting their appetites.

Critics say the software may be illegal, a form of wiretapping, because it has no opt-in (or out), and doesn't inform users they're being monitored.

But Dykes told the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that NebuAd's limited data collection is anonymized, including the IP numbers. In the data's aggregated forum, it would be impossible to identify a subscriber.

"No one, not even the government, can determine the identity of our users," he said.

For more:
- See the PC World story