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Embarq draws scrutiny for NebuAd relationship

Thu, 07/17/2008 - 8:15am
Brian Santo

Consumer concerns about the Web-tracking activities of start-up NebuAd have led Congress to widen its inquiry into possible online privacy violations to include NebuAd partner Embarq.

NebuAd tracks consumers’ online behavior and uses the data for targeted advertising. Charter Communications was going to hold trials with NebuAd but postponed them for technological reasons and because of privacy concerns.

NebuAd CEO Robert Dykes recently provided Congressional testimony that it does not track individual behavior, but consumer advocates remain skeptical.

Rep. Edward Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, has sent a letter to Embarq inquiring about a test Embarq is reported to have conducted with NebuAd earlier this year.

The letter was also signed by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the committee's ranking Republican.

The politicians are asking for details of the test, and they have asked whether the subscribers involved were notified of how their information would be used.

"Surreptitiously tracking individual users' Internet activity cuts to the heart of consumer privacy," Markey said in a statement. "Embarq's apparent use of this technology without directly notifying affected customers that their activity was being tracked, collected and analyzed raises serious privacy red flags."

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