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Internet service providers are collecting behavioral data on customers in order to cash in on online ad revenue, reports ClickZ.
According to the report, ISPs have either rolled out or are testing software that allows them to gather information about online behavior. The data can be used to target ads delivered by the ISPs themselves.
Internet service providers have sown few of the fruits of online ad spend. Dollars have instead gone to sites accessed by users via connections that ISPs provide, a disparity the providers seek to balance.
If ISPs produce behavioral targeted ads — in some cases by buying up remnant inventory from existing networks — the level of targeting could be far broader than those of websites, which rely on cookies. ISP-based targeting may be gleaned from a user's historical online activity with that service provider.
Privacy groups worry that private information — such as health-related online surfing — may be used to target ads. Such "personal" data would build a detailed profile of users that may expose potentially embarrassing or even dangerous information.