BBC Admits To Website Snooping

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Been on the BBC’s website recently? Well, your details may have been sent to an American company without your knowledge or consent.

While those outside England may not have heard about the BBC’s legal wrangles with Clarkson, Woss or Blue Peter, they may be interested to know that part of the UK website used to run a tracking system where cookies that arrived on the website from your computer were passed on to Visual Sciences, a web analytics operation bought in 2007 by Omniture, a Utah-based online marketing firm. This may have included your IP address and post (zip) code.

A trawl by NoDPI, an internet privacy forum, of the BBC’s privacy policy revealed it did not disclose that it was handing over post codes and IP addresses to Omniture, prompting complaints to the corporation’s Information Policy and Compliance Unit (IPC).

The NoDPI member who raised the issue, an IT expert who asked not to be named, said, “Information given to Omniture included my IP address, my country, my post code, the dates and times I visited the site, the news stories I read and details of every news video clip I watched. You could derive a great deal of information by mining that data.”

Legal wrangling ensued, with claims that the US site didn’t come under EU privacy laws, but now the BBC has issued a statement to say that it has stopped the sharing of data.

Omniture was at the center of a controversy early last year over the way Adobe software was reporting user activity to the firm’s servers. Creative Suite 3 was connecting to Omniture via a strange URL: 192.168.112.2O7.net.

Omniture insisted that the URL was innocent, despite it looking very similar to an IP address, but the episode clinched the firm a poor reputation among internet privacy watchers.

Big Brother may not be watching, but Big Auntie Beeb certainly was.

Source: The Register

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