03 Dec Controversial Profiling Technology On Its Way Back

It appears that the once controversial profiling technology known as “deep packet inspection” is making a strong comeback.

It was recently reported on WSJ.com that a couple of technology companies are looking to reinvent or redesign the once frowned upon internet profiling technology so that ISPs (internet service providers) can take full advantage of the advertising potential of their systems.

In the past, this profiling technology has been considered highly intrusive.  Considering spy agencies use it for surveillance, you can understand why it’s greeted with so many red flags.  The difference now is that the two companies pushing the technology, Kindsight, Inc. and Phorm Inc., are stressing the privacy and protection for the users that will be profiled.  For starters, Internet users that use ISPs with the technology will have to opt in from the start.  The idea is to provide free security software in exchange for opting into the service.  The full potential of the software will not be used as user e-mails will not be read and sensitive online activities will not be documented.  Personal user information such as names will not be recorded either.

For advertisers it could mean a highly sophisticated ad targeting system that could help deliver precise ads at the optimal time.  The question is whether or not users feel comfortable with someone essentially spying on their online activity.  When you put it in those terms I don’t think there will be a lot of buy in.  The idea of scaling back the intrusiveness of the technology could prove to be very valuable for marketers and the ISPs who choose to use it.  It will be interesting to see how users greet it.

Sibet B Freides