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Thursday, April 23, 2009


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Rebecca Rachmany

When talking about privacy, there are three main issues:

* Who has access to the information?
* What is the information being used for?
* How can consumers control the use of that data?

Within that framework, for the first question, it's pretty clear that Canoe and the cable operators have no intention to sell the data to any third party or to use that data for anything other than advertising. All of the parties involved are clear on customer rights. Just as your credit card company has information and takes care not to give it to third parties, it is in the commercial as well as regulatory interest of these parties to keep this information confidential.

For the second question, "what is data used for?", the information is being used to deliver targeted advertising. Although there are some people who might feel "creepy" about this, in fact, this is a potentially valuable service. If we can make sure that a household with young children does not get advertising for Viagra, that's an actual service customers want. Rather than regulating against such advertisements, the technology being developed today has the potential to provide a better and more appropriate viewing experience.

The main area where regulation seems to make sense is in the issue of transparency and opting in/out of this kind of service. Customers should be aware that their data is being used to provide this service, and have the ability to opt out if they desire to do so.

Rebecca Rachmany

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