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Charter delays Web use tracker

June 25, 2008|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer

Internet service provider Charter Communications Inc. said Tuesday that it would delay indefinitely the use of a tool for tracking where its customers go on the Web.

Charter had planned to test such a service from Silicon Valley start-up NebuAd Inc. but came under immediate fire from privacy advocates and members of Congress.

"Some of our customers have presented questions about this service as well as suggested improvements. As such, we are not moving forward with the pilots at this time," Charter wrote in an e-mailed statement.

NebuAd's system is designed to show more relevant advertisements to consumers based on where they go on the Net. But Internet service providers have more information about customers than any ad network can have, so the idea raised questions about the use and security of the data.

Privacy groups say the snooping is tantamount to wiretapping. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, urged "other broadband companies considering similar user profiling programs to similarly hold off on implementation while these important privacy concerns can be addressed."

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