The revelation that ISP’s like Comcast are selling your clickstream data has got a little attention. My own notes were spotty, so it was great to see that David Henderson audio recordings of the entire conference, including the infamous talk with David Cancel of Compete.com.
If people were so outraged (and confused!) over AOL releasing users’ search information, I wonder when the furor will turn towards the ISPs who actively selling even more private information. (There’s no way to be angry with Compete, as they are simply buying what is available and doing valuable statistical analysis.)
Here are the juicy bits from that recording, referenced by time.
Seth: David, how big is the panel?
David: The panel is a little over 2 million people right now.
Seth: You’re watching the behavior of 2 million people?
David: 2 million people, correct.
Roger ???: I was curious; how much do ISP’s think their users’ data is worth?
David: I think it depends on the ISP. So, some folks think it’s worth a lot. If you’re getting a couple million folks, you know, in the millions of dollars…to license that, per year.
Seth: So the average ISP customer … So if I use Comcast … I’m worth 40 cents a month?
David: Uh-huh. Something like that. It depends on the ISP, some will charge a little bit more, closer to a dollar.
Seth: So for 40 cents, Comcast is selling what of mine? They are selling…my entire clickstream?
David: Your entire clickstream. So, and some user [???] that identifies you. So 123 is your user ID per the time that you’re a Comcast customer, and your entire clickstream.
Audience member: So that’s essentially the same [as the] AOL data, that there was a lot of furor over.
David: It’s beyond that.
Audience member: It’s way beyond that.
Audience member: How many people are they selling it too? [muffled]
David: Lots. 10, 12 folks are buying this kind of data that I know of. So and a million dollars plus from each of those. Starts to add up. It’s pure profit.
Seth: Is there any clearing house of data of how many times my Comcast clickstream is getting sold?
Seth: You see, I thought it was bad where in the lead generation world where your mortgage lead gets sold 15 times. This is even worse, because you’re not filling out a form.
Esther: But they don’t bother you as much!
Audience memeber: Do you know if any government agencies are looking at this data? [muffled]
David: I don’t know. I mean, we’ve been contacted a long time ago…[crowd noise]
Esther: They are.
David: …similar experiments.
David: I’m sure they’re buying it, or have access to it as well.
Seth: They’re the ISP to the ISPs.
David: When I see some of the information that our client have on users, it seems a lot more scary to me than what you can gain from clickstream information. It might just be me, I might be numb to the clickstream information. But some of the credit card information that we know some people are capturing is a lot more scary…than some of the exhaust on the clickstream side.
David: We get clickstream information, basically like the history looks like in your browser. We don’t get the underlying information like what kind of videos have been played or rich elements. Although…it is available.