Comcast: ISPs should be able to sell your Web history to advertisers

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by Holysmoke, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. Holysmoke

    Holysmoke Registered Member

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  2. Palancar

    Palancar Registered Member

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    My ISP can feel free to sell all the browsing history that they observe from my account. The buyer would receive this: he connects to one of several vpns, but then our observations go dark! They don't see subsequent vpns or TOR downstream, and after TOR --------------------- well that is my business not my ISP's! The host OS where the initial connection to the net happens has NO browsing activity on it so there is nothing to steal even during the brief handshake.



    I still fully hate that everyday users are subjected to online activity being basically public. How did we get here folks?
     
  3. Rasheed187

    Rasheed187 Registered Member

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    I don't know if it's just me, but I think this is shocking. Is the FCC seriously considering to allow this? I believe things like this would be out of the question in the EU, it's totally unacceptable.
     
  4. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    NO I can assure you it's not just you.
     
  5. Rasheed187

    Rasheed187 Registered Member

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    Yes, it's crazy, there is so much focus on blocking tracking on the web, and now your own ISP is basically telling you they don't give a damn about your privacy? And most people probably have got nothing to hide, but that still doesn't make it right. It's about the principle.
     
  6. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    I get so annoyed with people who blandly say there's no privacy on the web, then just roll over to the next obvious breach to your privacy. This ISP one is truly despicable. As for advertising, it just doesn't work on me so it's totally pointless sending it to me, not to mention we've already paid for our internet connections so this advertising stuff is largely just pushing in where it's not wanted.
     
  7. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    There's an upside to it. Dismissive remarks such as:
    • There's no privacy on the Internet anyway, get over it
    • If you are that concerned just get off the net
    • So and so does it too
    • I have nothing to hide/what do you have to hide?
    • Don't be so paranoid
    • Take the tinfoil hat off
    • That's FUD
    • Who cares?
    Tell us much about the speaker's mental capacity and motivations, their ability to explore and think critically, whether they think only of themselves and their context or also consider others, whether they are prone to inaction or action, their depth/breadth of knowledge and experience in security/privacy and related technical matters, etc. You can usually tell, after just a few posts by someone, whether they are genuinely dismissive or have such a leaning. Even those who try to hide it usually reveal it through their tone. The most dismissive/defensive ones are usually involved in the objected to practice that is being discussed and/or have other financial interests in seeing it continue.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016
  8. driekus

    driekus Registered Member

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    I think people are oblivious to the amount of data that companies are amassing. If you give them something shiny they will give privacy away in a blink. Think about rewards programs as the best example.

    The FCC has been very hard to predict. Tom Wheelar has been very progressive on some issues (net neutrality) despite strong roots in the cable industry. My personal view is that this type of tracking is inevitable and already probably being done by other companies (google, facebook and the like).

    Like Palanclar my ISP can sell all my data. I connect to my VPN so it should be a pretty short list. :)

    I also wonder whether ISPs offering this discount will make it a condition of use that you do not use a VPN.
     
  9. Holysmoke

    Holysmoke Registered Member

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    you think VPN's aren't tempted or already secretly selling histories? it is a guarantee that some have and are.
     
  10. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    VPN services need Internet access too. So it isn't just a question of what the VPN services choose to do and/or are forced to do. A rogue provider could datamine their traffic. Some exit side traffic would be unencrypted, vulnerable to unique identifier and/or fingerprint based tracking, and sensitive enough to want it protected from such practices. I'm not sure how vulnerable the encrypted traffic is to sophisticated analysis. However, in a world where Internet service and access providers analyze/ monetize their customers' traffic, end-user providers could share information with VPN service providers and that might facilitate more sophisticated techniques.

    Another question would be what are the present/future consequences of being labeled a VPN user in the various advertising, credit reporting, and other commercial databases? If your ISP doesn't share information about your use of VPNs and you use VPNs carefully, few if any commercial parties may know your name and that you are a VPN user. If your ISP does share that information (directly and/or indirectly), could there be consequences?
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
  11. Umbra

    Umbra Registered Member

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    Privacy is proportional to the distance you take with technology and human life around you.
     
  12. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    I take it that means "privacy increases as you distance yourself from technology and others". There are times where the privacy goal is solitude. However, I think the more common and modern goal would be avoiding inappropriate information collection, use, and/or sharing. Technically speaking, every party you expose your self/info to might engage in such practices. However, it is worth noting that they don't *have to* do so. They have choices.

    The individuals we interact with on a personal level gravitate towards favorable choices. Would someone you have a personal relationship with take information from your computer or phone without your prior explicit permission? Would they attempt to coerce you into allowing them to analyze/exploit your Internet activity by imposing some type of penalty upon you if you don't? If you asked them to make something for you or help you build something, would they insist on doing it in a way that allows them to snoop on you? Some children and problem adults might, but generally no... normal people tend to be considerate and treat others with some respect. When someone doesn't we create consequences for them and that drives them towards better behavior. It is possible to have many personal relationships and a very fulfilling life without experiencing what we consider to be significant privacy problems.

    Those we don't have personal relationships with, such as employees/executives of companies, gravitate towards unfavorable choices. Our information is quite valuable, and if there is a way they can profit from collecting/using/sharing it many will do so. They will take information without explicit permission. They will coerce people into allowing them to analyze/exploit Internet activity. They will insist upon designing things in ways that allow them to snoop. Their choices make use of modern technology harmful to privacy and create the need to reduce such use. Virtually all of the people we have personal relationships with and interact with use it and that creates the need to reduce our interactions with them.

    It doesn't have to be this way. It shouldn't be this way. Maybe, just maybe, it won't continue to be this way if we start creating consequences for those who cause privacy problems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  13. safeguy

    safeguy Registered Member

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    While I do find such practices a bit distasteful, I have come to terms with the fact that selling to advertisers has been the cost for free services. In fact, I am guilty of it despite knowing bits and pieces whereas most people may not be aware and would probably not be as accepting if they really knew.

    Instead I am going to argue that if they are going to sell your data, then they should not be charging you in the first place. If my ISP wants to sell my history, they had better provide me access to the internet for free.
     
  14. emmjay

    emmjay Registered Member

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    And you would be OK with them harvesting and selling your data?
     
  15. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    FTFY. I don't think it is a fair trade at all, but if you want to do it you need to protect yourself from the "its free... ok now its $.... ok now its $$..." maneuvers.

    Some might be interested in reading EFF comments including:
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2016
  16. safeguy

    safeguy Registered Member

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    I find it difficult to express my position on this matter as more than likely I would be misunderstood.

    Ideally, I would love to answer NO since I am a very private guy in real life. Even if I do share certain things online, it's mostly because I feel comfortable sharing them under an alias or pseudonym but not under my real name.

    However, the irony lies in the fact that I am already using platforms by companies that do sell my data regardless of the fact that I don't like it.

    Just to name a few...Microsoft (Windows, Outlook.com), Google (Android, Gmail), WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.

    I have taken steps to reduce exposure but I am lazy and have been careless (and still am till this day). I am pretty sure some of my data have already been sold to advertisers.

    Forget web history for a moment.

    My smart-card for public transit keeps a record of wherever I go. The library keeps a record of which books I have borrowed. Enter the shopping malls and trains, there are cameras almost everywhere.

    My photos are on Facebook because family and friends post them without asking!

    So you see...I am living in a surveillance. There are things that I have already exposed about myself which I wouldn't if I could turn back time.

    In short: I am not OK with it...but let's just say I have been accustomed to it. Most privacy advocates would call me weak. I am fine with that.
     
  17. safeguy

    safeguy Registered Member

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    Thanks a lot for that. AGREED!
     
  18. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    Everyone, including privacy advocates, has *some* exposures. However, that mere fact should not be used to justify tolerating even more. Before deciding whether to accept an additional exposure you really ought to think through how the additional exposure differs from your other ones and whether the additional exposure will make your overall privacy situation worse.

    An ISP datamining a user's Internet traffic is one of the most worrisome scenarios because activity across many sites/services and traffic from multiple devices can pass through that Internet access chokepoint. Some ISPs are also providers of other services, such as cable TV in the case of Comcast. Meaning they are in a rather unique position to acquire and merge multiple datasets that are likely to compliment each other in some ways. I don't know what Comcast cable boxes and remotes are like now. However, I recall reading an article or two in the past. IIRC they were experimenting with a built-in mic supporting voice recognition and a built-camera with body and/or face recognition. Point being that the hardware devices they have in one's home are also potential sources of data collection. There's quite a bit to consider, particularly if you are also trying to (as you should) guesstimate how things will evolve in the years ahead.
     
  19. safeguy

    safeguy Registered Member

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    I understand and I largely agree in theory. In practice though, I find it an overwhelmingly difficult task to balance my privacy concerns with blending in with the crowd. I need to use certain services and give up certain things that are personally identifiable to function within my community (e.g. school, workplace, family, etc). Even if one takes deliberate steps to reduce exposure and compartmentalize their identities, the amount of leaks that may occur without one even realizing is ridiculous. Tracking techniques are becoming more advanced and widespread. It feels like trying to catch running water from the tab with your bare hands.

    Don't mind me asking but to what extent would you go to reduce your exposure? Personally, I have little tolerance to keep up with privacy policies changes, tracking down possible leaks and configuring settings to prevent them, jump through VPNs and Tor, etc etc. I know they work but is it cost and time effective for an average Joe doing his daily business and not living in a war zone and not directly targeted by the government? I wonder in the grand scheme of things - does it matter that much if something like web history is sold to advertisers (provided it does not affect the said Joe in a negative manner - destroy relationship or career etc).
     
  20. Reality

    Reality Registered Member

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    @TheWindBringeth great comments.
    Add to that, "thats progress" - Your list is typical and you come across these every time you breath the word privacy. That nothing to hide thing is just so stupid it's unbelievable how mind controlled people are to say such a thing.

    Yep selfishness is the bane of society. The thing about this is their inaction affects those who do want to act. Worse, all it takes for evil to prevail, is for a good man to do nothing.

    Exactly.

    Well said. Even so, try telling these excellent real world examples to a "I have nothing to hide" proponent. They just refuse to get it, and you're essentially talking to a brick wall. The fact is people trade their privacy for bells and whistles. I can understand perfectly how hard it is to get to grips with protecting our privacy but there's a world of difference between trying to do something about it and taking the path of least resistance.

    @safeguy
    I understand what you're saying and how hard it is to fight this but it does matter. No matter what the future, you cannot erase the inherent sane position of the need for privacy. People will compromise this to their peril. Consider if everyone took this position, the dictatorship will have truly arrived in full. This is a warzone. I fully agree with TWB about comments on how bad this is for ISPs to be getting in on this. The sad thing is people will carry on regardless and overall blindly say "that's progress."
     
  21. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    Further than most who care about privacy, not as far as some. I think the "no pain no gain" mentality has merit. You don't have to kill yourself, but it ought to involve *some* work/pain.
    We are all in a privacy war zone. Every single one of us is a target of commercial sector *and* government sector surveillance. Both sectors engage in inappropriate collection/use/sharing. Even those with the most narrow definition of "inappropriate" would, if they did some research, find evidence of law breaking activity by both sectors. Every single one of us pays a price for this. We just can't put a firm number on how "much" we're paying.
    Considering that the advertising industry essentially does everything for its own financial advantage and Joe is on the opposite side of the financial equation, it would be foolish for Joe to assume their practices have no negative affect on him. Many Joes have had relationships harmed, careers harmed, etc due to privacy degrading business practices, privacy degrading design choices, their own ignorance and/or laziness regarding such matters, etc. This is getting too deep into "why does privacy matter" territory though.

    Explaining such things in satisfying detail, over and over again to the endless stream of don't-already-know-Joes doesn't make sense. Material is out there and a Joe who doesn't know can search for it and read it. If and when Joe decides it matters to him and he wants to do something to improve his privacy, then it makes sense to spend more time on him. He could even start a thread, provide a useful rough outline of what he is doing, and ask for suggestions. I would point out, in advance, that every top privacy concerns list should/would have a section on web history. Every in-the-know-Joe will want to be taking steps to protect their web history. Including from ISP datamining.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2016
  22. Anonfame1

    Anonfame1 Registered Member

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    Human beings only respond to calamity. We will continue to go down this path until a large enough minority or possibly even majority have these privacy problems create a form of financial or social calamity in their lives.

    Nearly all corporations and government entities today are very familiar with the "boiling a frog" way of introducing change beneficial to profit; if they introduce or try to introduce changes too quickly, the public will react (due to the enormity of the change- a calamity in terms of lost personal power within that sphere) in such a way that will reduce profits, and will be more watchful for a period of time as it is now on their collective conscience. A better approach is small constant changes- keep the number of people reacting only a small number on the fringe. So long as their is no social plurality sufficient enough to create a sizable opposition, it will not become a concept present in the dominant public conscience. And as such, the only people truly concerned are a small subset of "fanatics" over there on that security forums... whats its name again??.... oh yeah "Wilders Security Forums."

    Between the "boil the frog slowly" approach and the concept of incentivizing any loss of privacy (facebook is a strong social instrument- the incentive to gain access to its social sphere causes people to overlook or otherwise not consider the privacy losses accrued though use of the service), loss of privacy is here to stay.

    Society will continue down this path- with only small victories in the interest of privacy and against corporate ownership- until calamity drives them to action. When the system's flaws are revealed and the dominant public conscience is aware of the cost, the tea will be dumped in the harbor.
     
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