The Center for Digital Democracy will ask both the FCC and FTC to ensure that consumer privacy is protected as part of the regulatory review of the Comcast/NBCU partnership.Â Comcast is currently deploying interactive TV applications, including for advertising, on its cable systems.Â Â The nation’s largest cable company and broadband ISPÂ has played a leading role in developing next-generation â€œadvanced advertisingâ€ services through the Canoe Ventures interactive TV cable consortium, as well as with CableLabs (Comcast chair Brian Roberts is the chair of the board of CableLabs, the industry’s R&D center).Â For advanced advertising, information on household viewing, including from individuals, will be collected from set-top boxes that can be combined with outside databases to form viewer ad targeting profiles.Â Â Highly personal ads will be created, practically instantaneously, for real-time delivery based on these profiles. Cable and other video providers are creating a â€œreal-time decision-making systemâ€ for marketing that analyzes user data–including income, ethnicity, and viewing and behavior patterns–to help determine the precise ad to be delivered. Comcast is reportedly planningÂ â€œa gigantic database called â€œTV Warehouse,â€ able to store a full year of statistics gathered from digital set-tops in more than 16 million households nationwideâ€¦ having a massive 500 Terabytes of storage, would then feed up to a database even broader in scope operated by Canoe Venturesâ€¦â€
As the nationâ€™s biggest â€œvideo providerâ€ and â€œlargest residential Internet service provider,â€ Comcast has access to detailed financial information on its TV and broadband subscribers.Â It also has a treasure trove of consumer data on viewing behaviors online and with TV.Â Comcast can also use its dominate position as the leading high-speed ISP and cable TV provider to extract additional consumer information from its programming partners.Â Â Regulators will need to ensure effective safeguards on network neutrality, programming access and competition, and consumer privacyâ€”especially for â€œadvanced advertising.”
CDD also will ask competition authorities to review Comcast’s relationship with Canoe Ventures, and its implications on content diversity.