R.I.P., NebuAd. But, What If You Had Just Asked For The User's Consent?

NebuAd, the controversial company that had sought to target online ads based on user behavior, is dead, at last.The company's services were actually appealing to some cable companies who act as Internet service providers, such as Charter Communications and Bresnan Communications.

NebuAd, the controversial company that had sought to target online ads based on user behavior, is dead, at last.

The company's services were actually appealing to some cable companies who act as Internet service providers, such as Charter Communications and Bresnan Communications.

But the problem was NebuAd's use of deep packet inspection ... and, as Between The Lines noted last year, proceeding to access and disclose information about the ISP subscribers that was sensitive and personally identifying. But the more trenchant problem was this:

That the intentional interception of the information was done so without the consent of the subscriber.

FWIW, Google's basic business model is targeting online ads on user behavior. In its case, however, the behavior is all transparent and consensual. You type in "deep packet inspection" into its search box. And Radware buys a position atop the search results that leads you to a white paper on the subject.

There are all sorts of apps that are going to target ads based on your behavior. And why wouldn't you want that? If you're interested in having someone track the sites you visit and the search terms you use, then present you with ads and offers based on the stuff you're interested in -- why not? As long as you know what's going on, as long as the service is open or you sign up for it, fine.

If your service saves consumers time and money, fine. Just ask for their consent. You might just get it.