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Verizon, AT&T, Comcast Say They Will Not Sell Customer Browsing Histories (reuters.com) 125

Comcast, Verizon, AT&T Inc said Friday they would not sell customers' individual internet browsing information, days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation reversing Obama administration era internet privacy rules. From a report on Reuters: The bill would repeal regulations adopted in October by the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet's Google or Facebook. The easing of restrictions has sparked growing anger on social media sites. "We do not sell our broadband customers' individual web browsing history. We did not do it before the FCC's rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so," said Gerard Lewis, Comcast's chief privacy officer. He added Comcast is revising its privacy policy to make more clear that "we do not sell our customers' individual web browsing information to third parties." Verizon does not sell personal web browsing histories and has no plans to do so in the future, said spokesman Richard Young.
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Verizon, AT&T, Comcast Say They Will Not Sell Customer Browsing Histories

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    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:22PM (#54154095) Journal

      First, F you for making so that in order to tell the truth, I end up defending *Verizon*. Please be careful about stating untruths about assholes; I don't like posting stuff that makes Verizon look less bad.

      Second, the article you linked to, based on a post the EFF has retracted, does NOT mention browser history.

      Third, did I mention RERRACTED.

      According to the article you linked to, on one particular Verizon phone you can OPT IN to an app that lets them see which APPS you have installed. Nothing to do with browser history whatsoever, and it's opt-in.

      • Wasn't it Verizon who was putting tracking values into HTTP headers not that long ago that would allow their mobile customers to be individually identified across virtually any site? Even though the spyware thing is false, that doesn't mean they haven't been up to their usual tricks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why would they sell it? It is far more valuable to pump into their own (Aol/Yahoo) ad exchanges and not share it with Google/Facebook.

    • "We do not sell our broadband customers' individual web browsing history."

      "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

      "Nobody has any intention of building a wall." [Walter Ulbricht, shortly before he built The Berlin Wall]

      Folks in charge sure do say the darndest things . . .

      • by uncqual ( 836337 )

        ...and the CEOs who have said "No staff reductions are anticipated as a result of $WHATEVER" and six weeks later announce "staffing realignments".

  • Never, nope, no way.

    *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

  • Words Matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:04PM (#54153919)

    They'll sell them in bulk, not individually. Though, they'll probably make more money data mining than selling. Like how Facebook doesn't sell your data but lets advertisers exactly target the group they want. Technically Facebook didn't sell your data, but to the end user the visible effects are the same.

    • Two days ago: congress strips internet privacy protections against ISPs
      Yesterday: Crowdfunding and cards against humanity announce they'll buy the internet histories of the congresspeople who voted for it
      Today: ISPs announce they won't be selling individual histories

      I guess with the psychopath in the white house, there's really no need to be subtle anymore.

      Sidenote: every congress person who voted for it was republican. House vote [govtrack.us] and Senate vote. [govtrack.us] The protections rolled back were from Obama. Tell me
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:05PM (#54153933)

    Google doesn't sell individual user's behavior either, it sells buckets of users it calls audiences. Nobody wants to market to one person anyway.

    Saying they won't sell your specific habits doesn't mean shit, they will big data you into buckets like "movie lover", "gadget enthusiast", "jerks it to interracial porn ferociously every sunday". That will get sold and you will be marketed to based on it.

    Comcast is known to inject packets into http streams to put up their own messaging, they've done it before. Now they will sell that space / service.

  • we might give it away in exchange for favors?
    Well, one can hope they'll remain true to their word, but I dunno.. it's Comcast.

    • What kind of favors would the ISPs have in mind in exchange for the information of congress critters?
  • And there I was worried for a second! ...Little weird though that Verizon is included in this statement despite their announced intention to install software on their line of android phones for this exact purpose. Oh well, it's probably nothing. I'm sure these corporate entities spent millions of dollars lobbying for this exact policy outcome purely for funsies.

    I'm also almost certain that this isn't a case of deliberate semantics. Where they'll sell everything else but not your "browsing history."
  • Not Yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kackle ( 910159 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:17PM (#54154049)
    Well, not THIS year... But once everyone is paying attention to something else, perhaps... Fine print is easily and often changed.
  • Because they all already do sell it.... well technically not "sell" it but give it freely to "partner" companies.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:24PM (#54154113)

    They aren't going to sell your information, that's just ridiculous. They know they'll make way more money if they just lease access to your information. ;)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Comcast Spotlight: Targeted Cable and Digital Advertising Solutions [comcastspotlight.com]
      Premium Video Advertising Solutions

      We’re bringing brands and audiences together across screens using the power of premium video and advanced analytics.

      Comcast Spotlight is an advertising sales company providing video solutions to local, regional and national businesses through television and digital advertising. Comcast Spotlight provides local market coverage across multiple platforms (cable TV, satellite, telco, online, VOD) and can

  • Really, we have to sign off on all sorts of stuff to do business with them...

    • Yes exactly, put up shut up. If they really meant it they would send every single customer a declaration in writing that they will never sell their data under penalty of some large monetary damage. I would love for someone in power to challenge them to do that.
  • Of course they don't (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:28PM (#54154141)

    Your raw data isn't what's sold most of the time. It's insights and scores derived from it algorithmically. These scores and categorisations are their 'corporate opinion', and in the US are protected as free (corporate) speech. With the US law system the biggest threat is being sued for libel, which is why they are very careful to always sell these scores as 'likelyhood', not fact. Although the clients use it as fact all the same. The databroker-market (worth 150 billion in 2015) doesn't sell YOUR data, they sell THEIR data (which is based on your data).

    An example is Facebook's data about your interests that advertisers use. Some databrokers have up to 3000 'opinions' for sale, including your 'likely' interests, political affiliation, psychological weakness, medical risks, and so forth.

    In Europe it's a little different, especially with the new GDPR privacy law coming up. There what counts as 'person data' has just been expanded. However, much is still unclear.

    So in short, this promise is a smokescreen that cleverly builds on a widely held misconception. Why sell the raw product. The market wants the refined product.

    Welcome to the reputation economy, where every little bit of data you leave behind is used to rate you. And do realize:
    - These scores and ratings will increasingly impact the chances you are given.
    - They are not as fair as you think.

    A useful FTC report:
    https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/data-brokers-call-transparency-accountability-report-federal-trade-commission-may-2014/140527databrokerreport.pdf

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday March 31, 2017 @03:32PM (#54154177)

    Verizon, AT&T, Comcast Say They Will Not Sell Customer Browsing Histories until all the fuss dies down

  • They could still sell our DNS queries....

  • It'll just happen to be on the Blu Ray disc that they sold to that nice marketing company.

  • In the pervious article on this story I asked what it information would be even possible for crowdfunded people to buy.

    Apparently the answer is, none. None more information.

    So what happens to all that crowdfunded money go now?

    I thought it seemed like a scam; even if companies were going to sell anything it would take a long time to ramp up. But it's never too soon to pull money in from suckers, especially overly emotional suckers.

  • They're charging for the key to decrypt the data.

  • No, they won't sell the histories, that's proprietary valuable data. They will sell services based on the results of those histories to third parties though, not to mention the data now being subject to subpoena for legal issues.
  • ...they will rent them. Anyone who's ever worked in the data industry knows this.
  • But for a low price, we'll show you how to buy it from the other providers.
  • If you believe this, I have a nice bridge in a city I'd be willing to sell you for just $100.. Since I don't do business (nor will I) with those particular entities, I'm waiting to hear what *my* ISP, Cox, has to say about this "gift" from the jackasses in Congress.. I'll be just as skeptical with them as I am with this crowd...

  • >"Comcast, Verizon, AT&T Inc said Friday they would not sell customers' individual internet browsing information,"

    What about Cox?

    Not that I believe any of this, anyway....

  • At least not in a way likely to be noticed without a lot of scrutiny. Of course when I get a call from a telemarketer quoting details only know by my ISP and ask how that is possible, they will say they sold data, but not on me specifically. Kind of like the NSA doesn't necessarily target anyone in particular. Trump may have a point (and hate to say it..). While Trump may have been incorrect (and irresponsible) to say that Presdident Obama specifically ordered a wire tap on his communications (presidents do
  • What constitutes as "individual" browsing history? I guess that means we each all have to get our own internet ISP per person. Will they sell "household" information? Digital fingerprinting is a thing, but not as profound just yet enough to even sell "individual" browsing history. You have a MAC address, but that can be spoofed. And of course they're aren't going to sell browsing histories when they have subsidiaries/3rd party companies to do it for them. It's kind of like how "no kill" animal shelters actu
  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Friday March 31, 2017 @06:04PM (#54155095) Journal

    Alright, if they don't plan on selling our data, then who wrote the legislation? I seriously doubt that politicians by themselves would write this.

  • by swm ( 171547 ) <swmcd@world.std.com> on Friday March 31, 2017 @06:05PM (#54155101) Homepage

    Back in the 1980s, Regan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
    Some enterprising reporter located a video rental store near where Bork lived and got the clerk to give him Bork's rental records.
    Bork had rented--wait for it--Citizen Kane.

    Within a couple of months, congress passed a law making it a federal crime to disclose someone's video rental history.
    Because, of course, all those congressmen knew than when their own records turned up in the morning paper, it wasn't going to be Citizen Kane, it was going to be Debbie Does Dallas, part XXIII.

    We may be seeing the same thing here.

  • BULLSHIT!

    This is like Snow White putting Pinoccio's nose in her snatch and saying "LIE! LIE! you son of a bitch!"

  • This may be marked as a troll question. I hope not.

    It seems to me that this law now makes it clear that such things as browsing history have value. Does that start to raise the question of who owns the copyright of the history in the first place?

    If I take a photograph and display it publicly, I still own the copyright. Why isn't the list of web sites I visit copyright by the original author (the person doing the browsing) the instant that it is created?

    If my browsing history has value and I own the co

  • Then why did the buy republicans to get this bill passed.

    Oh wait - looks like the people they bought didn't think about their browser history being part of the fun.

    Can't we hold off on not implementing selling them until we get the people who voted for this bill's browser history?

  • Ya gotta love it when corporations say "we have no plans to harm kittens" or some such, and ya gotta love it even more when the (way too many for my liking) rubes among the citizenry believe that they won't harm kittens.

    If they really meant what they want us to believe they mean, then they would simply say "we promise not to harm kittens, ever". Unless and until they make that kind of commitment, and stop making weaselly references to 'having no plans', their words are utterly meaningless. For that, they ma

  • How much is your browsing history worth to THEM?

  • I wouldn't trust comcast not to sell my body parts, while I was still using them.

  • What exactly are they selling? DNS lookups? Deep packet inspection results? Verizon's Super-Duper Cookie tracking? Is there a keylogger on your computer / router? Or is it the times and quantity that your internet is active? (It's 1AM and his wife's laptop has been active in another state. He's suddenly using lots of bandwidth from the 2nd story router. Ergo he's watching pr0n!)

    So they're selling / leasing WHAT exactly? Anatomized, stratified, or even Puréed, what do they think they're

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