Monday, April 28, 2008

Can you trust your ISP?

For some time now I’ve been seeing posts popping up on various blogs and forums, all of them asking the question – is your ISP tracking our surfing?

Three different techoblogs that I subscribe to swear that there is no way to know for sure. Due to the point of information flow that your ISP sits, they could monitor, record and analyse every move you make on the net without your knowledge. There are however people out there who claim that they not only know that ISPs are doing this but they’ve caught them doing it.

So the question isn’t are they doing it, but how and why are they doing it.

The level of information an ISP can gather on the individual is huge. Every email you read, every website you visit and the exact time of day and length of time you do it all, passes straight through their systems. So it’s not a long stretch of the imagination to realise why. With demographical information like this, the potential for advertising targeting is unsurpassed.

To do it however, an ISP needs to sell that information to someone who can use it. So, step in Phorm. Professional adware merchants, Phorm form the connection between ISPs and advertisers.

Thankfully there are members of the public out there who are pitting their skills and talent against these people. One of my, now essential, plugins for Firefox on all the pcs I use is Deformation. This nifty little plugin will prevent Phorm from functioning, unfortunately if you ISP is working with NebuAd or Front Porch it can’t help. So what to do?

Well for now, the only thing is to keep a constant eye on you line and make sure you read every bit of info your ISP throws at you.

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