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TiVo Selling Data on Users' Watching Habits

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the that-little-antenna-guy-is-watching-you dept.

Privacy 244

Gyppo writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that TiVo is collecting and selling data on what parts of broadcasts people are rewinding for review and what commercials they are skipping. The data collection is part of a service the company provides to advertisers and television networks, collecting anonymous data on their users' commercial-watching habits. The data they provide is a random subset of their overall userbase, detailing which commercials are skipped and which are actually watched. The article mentions the possibility for privacy abuse, but with this application of technology Tivo is not providing access to what any one individual user watches via the service."

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in CCCP (4, Funny)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882512)

in soviet russia, TiVo watches you!!

Re:in CCCP (5, Insightful)

mopslik (688435) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882664)

Only on /. would parent be modded "insightful" instead of "funny".

Re:in CCCP (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17883006)

Are you suggesting that an "In Soviet Russia" joke would be considered funny outside of slashdot?

Typo (1, Troll)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882790)

Typo: 'In Soviet America...' There, fixed for you.

Re:Typo (0)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882982)

Typo: 'In Soviet America...'There, fixed for you.
In Soviet Russia, Slashdot comments fix you!

Re:in CCCP (1)

technicalandsocial (940581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882816)

in Canada, there is a privacy act that prevents this from happening. All companies in Canada must disclose to their users what they are doing with their personal data.

Re:in CCCP (5, Informative)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883048)

Do you mean disclosure such as Tivo's privacy policy [tivo.com] , which says what data they will collect, and what they will do with it? So I guess you mean this can happen in Canada, since Tivo has told people all along that they'd be collecting this information.

There is nothing to see here. It took less than 30 seconds to find Tivo's policy on viewing habbits data.

Re:in CCCP (4, Insightful)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883134)

There is nothing to see here

I'm in total agreement. I thought it was common knowledge from the start that this was part of TiVo's business model, and is a large part of the reason I've never entertained a TiVo purchase. I just can't see paying a monthly fee to provide a company with data that they're going to turn around and sell. I'll stay with my MythTV system, thanks, and the more-than-reasonable terms that Zap2It offers for providing program listings.

Re:in CCCP (1)

Sobieski (1032500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882858)

now thats what I call timing xD

Re:in CCCP (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882904)

There is zero reason not to mark these stupid-ass "In Soviet Russia" jokes as "Redundant" since they have been posted over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. So why are these "Funny" again?

And why am I not surprised? (0, Redundant)

Tuxedo Jack (648130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882514)

I'd love to know who they're selling it to, though. Choicepoint comes to mind... and that's a very scary thing, letting prospective employers know what I watch.

Re:And why am I not surprised? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882550)

I'd love to know who they're selling it to, though. Choicepoint comes to mind... and that's a very scary thing, letting prospective employers know what I watch.

Except they're not selling individually identifiable information. What they're selling is aggregate data (eg, 12% of commercial skippers went back and watched the new ad for Colgate). Then again, I shouldn't expect you to know that, since it's only mentioned in the summary...

Re:And why am I not surprised? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882928)

Your assumption is that they would never sell identity related information as well which is a rather large assumption. Unless there's something illegal about it, I can guarantee you that if Choicepoint dropped a big chunk of cash in their laps, they would take it and give them any info they want.

Choicepoint is building the largest databases in the world that contain all sorts of very personal information. So it wouldn't surprise me if they tried to get their hands on this data as well.

Re:And why am I not surprised? (5, Informative)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883102)

Why assume anything [tivo.com] , when Tivo spells out exactly what they are doing. Of course, you assumed this information didn't exist, and didn't bother to take the 30 seconds to find it.

Re:And why am I not surprised? (5, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882558)

and that's a very scary thing, letting prospective employers know what I watch.

You mean, the Discovery network's new Tinfoil Hat Channel?

Which part of not-tied-to-personal-accounts are you not getting? Personally, I'm happy if the data they're aggregating delivers messages such as "80% of our viewers think your 'Head-On! Apply Directly To Your Forehead' pain reliever ads are the broadcast equivalent of gerbil vomit" to the people who buy, sell, and produce the ads.

Re:And why am I not surprised? (1, Interesting)

numbski (515011) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883156)

I honstely am not sure why anyone cares.

1. They aren't targeting individuals.
2. We already know what the report says:

"Sweet Christ! They're skipping them all!!!1111"

1st (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882516)

friss piist

Re:1st (0, Offtopic)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882538)

friss piist
you failed it

Not surprising. (4, Insightful)

Cyraan (840132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882532)

I always assumed they did this, am I the only one?

Re:Not surprising. (4, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882592)

I thought it was part of their business strategy from the very beginning.

I don't see a problem, as long as they don't release any individually identifiable data.

Old news? (5, Interesting)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882546)

Didn't we know this back when the whole Janet Jackson/Super Bowl thing happened? Maybe this is running today in honor of the anniversary of that.

Thank goodness for my MythTV box.

Re:Old news? (1)

The PS3 Will Fail (998952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882604)

"Thank goodness for my MythTV box."
Why are your watching habits in aggregate with all other users of value to you? What do you think would happen if you used Tivo and your viewing habits were included in the data?

Re:Old news? (4, Funny)

koreth (409849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882752)

They would know, man, don't you see?!?!?

Re:Old news? (4, Insightful)

mdfst13 (664665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882760)

What do you think would happen if you used Tivo and your viewing habits were included in the data?
Maybe they'll show more of the stuff that I actually watch. I want people to have the aggregate data. The only problem that I have with TiVo selling aggregate data is that I might get more benefit from it if they gave it away. If the GP doesn't want advertisers to know what shows actually get watched, fine; the GP can get stuck watching what I like.

Now, if they were selling my individual data, that would tick me off.

Re:Old news? (4, Funny)

balthan (130165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882922)

Well, I purposely watch only unpopular programs. If the rating go up, I'll have to stop watching.

Maybe a Good Thing? (5, Insightful)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882548)

I'm inclined to think that maybe this is a good thing. If no individual privacy is being trampled, then it's good for TiVo to have another revenue stream and a way to keep networks and advertisers happy, since generally the content providers have been working pretty hard to fight against DVR.

Re:Maybe a Good Thing? (1)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882618)

Go fuck your mother, asshole.

Re:Maybe a Good Thing? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882652)

Bend over some more, corporate-fascism whore.

Re:Maybe a Good Thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882840)

From the people that brought you "Ads suck" and "Capitalism down" comes "No it's not." In an age so advanced that TV watches you, where you can win One Billion Monkeys for Life, and shaving cream and other goodies (may cause retardation, sexual side effects, murder, rape and nausea) come to your home and poop on your couch!
Bee: Good choice!
(warning: all watching habits are property of TiVo and it's sponsors and you indemnify them their employees, investors, pets and the Pope and his nuns for all consequential, incidental, accidental, adjustmental antisentimental apartmental argental bidental biparental cental cliental compartmental complemental condimental continental decremental dental departmental etrimental developmental documental elemental environmental epicontinental excremental experimental firmamental fragmental fundamental governmental grandparental incidental incremental instrumental intercontinental interdental interdepartmental intergovernmental intersegmental intertestamental judgmental labiodental lineamental managemental mental microenvironmental monumental nondepartmental nonexperimental nongovernmental noninstrumental
nonjudgmental nonmental occidental omental oriental ornamental parental pedimental placental
postexperimental presentimental regental regimental rental rudimental sacramental segmental
semigovernmental sentimental subcontinental supplemental suprasegmental tegmental temperamental thiopental transcendental transcontinental transplacental uniparental unsentimental and vestmental damages and stuff)

Re:Maybe a Good Thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882876)

It's also good for consumers. While I know that a lot of people hate all forms of advertising no matter what, this will still go towards making advertisements that bother people less. Of course that's just in theory. But if people skip the annoying commercials then advertisers might get a clue and start making less annoying commercials.

I have no problem with this as long as no individually identifiable information is sold. No privacy violation means no harm done and good things for Tivo, advertisers and consumers alike.

So non-free is goods for you! (0, Offtopic)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882924)

... it's good for TiVo to have another revenue stream and a way to keep networks and advertisers happy, since generally the content providers have been working pretty hard to fight against DVR.

Don't forget how vital this kind of feed back is for producing quality advertisements. If it were not for digital restrictions that force you to watch and evaluate ads, people on Madison Avenue would be so far out of touch that you might describe them as having their heads shove up their ass. The ads would surely suck much worse. See? Aren't you glad that you are not really in control of your recorder, that you are forced to watch advertisements? What a great deal for the $250/month you pay your cable company. A DVR that's not a DVR but more like a pay per play juke box from hell. I mean, when you can just watch what you pay for instead of whatever is being broadcast, 90% of your advertisement watching goes out the window. A free DVR that could skip advertisements all together would eliminate the last 10% and and and that would be terrible. Think of the quality messages you will be missing. Isn't that why you pay for cable TV? I know it's why I don't.

...and the next application of Tivo tech? (1)

nigelo (30096) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883030)

"but with this application of technology Tivo is not providing access to what any one individual user watches via the service."

I like the trolls but the trolls don't like me. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882554)

PLZ HLP K THX.

Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (4, Insightful)

VidEdit (703021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882560)

In the article, refers to what services its "clients" want--but Tivo isn't talking about all the people who forked over cash for Tivos and pay an over inflated monthly subscription. No, the people Tivo considers its clients are the media companies it sells viewership data to.

It would be nice if Tivo would think of its loyal customers as clients rather than a captive audience to sell data about and to force feed advertisements to. I think it is a legitimate point to think that Tivo might wish to consider putting its retail customers first, since without them they are nothing. The attempts to monitize their customers as if they are an asset owned by Tivo seems like a good way to alienate retail customers and to potentially hurt Tivo sales.

Re:Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (0, Flamebait)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882668)

The people you refer to are mere consumers, hogs who eat whatever you throw them. Advertising and marketing companies, these are the gods who must be served, for they are the source of all that is good in the world!

Re:Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882702)

Well said.

What bothers me about TiVo is that they are in a conflict-of-interest situation. They have people buying TiVos (and subscriptions) on the one hand, and they have advertisers and media companies on the other. Let's face it: the needs and wants of the two groups are not usually aligned. At some point, they may decide that the needs of the media companies are more profitable than the needs of the users. (I would argue that this monitoring move is one example.) I would prefer not to sign up with companies that undertaken these conflict-of-interest scenarios.

Obviously it's up to each consumer to decide whether the service TiVo is offering is worth it. Suffice it to say, I'm not convinced.

Re:Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882868)

But you have to admit that when one of those creepy pharmaceutical ads comes on, this will make it so much more satisfying to skip, now that you know you're relaying a "thumbs down" back to the pharmaceutical company through your Tivo.

If these commercials I'm seeing are reflective of the viewing habits of Tivo owners then it's clear you people aren't properly using the features of your Tivos.

Re:Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (1, Flamebait)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882734)

I think it is a legitimate point to think that Tivo might wish to consider putting its retail customers first, since without them they are nothing.

How would their actions be different depending on which customer they put first? Selling that data does not affect the viewers at all.

The attempts to monitize their customers as if they are an asset owned by Tivo seems like a good way to alienate retail customers and to potentially hurt Tivo sales.

The more money TiVo makes from other sources, the lower they can move their prices for everyone else (perhaps even free, if the data was valuable enough). Consumers like low prices more than they like TiVo not selling ANONYMOUS data for some ridiculous notion of ethics.

It's their data, exactly as if a painter kept track of what colors he paints houses and sold that information to a painting company so they know what colors are popular.

No, it isn't (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883038)

If the data "belongs" to anyone, it belongs to the viewers.

Re:Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (1)

statusbar (314703) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883118)

Tivo is under no obligation to lower prices to the consumer. The only thing that lowers them is competition.

jeffk

Re:Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (2, Insightful)

Mex (191941) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882766)

How many times does it have to be repeated?

YOU are the product. Your eyeballs are sold to the highest bidder.

The media companies, who pay huge amounts of money, ARE the clients.

Re:Note who Tivo considers its "clients" to be... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882908)

How many times does it have to be repeated?

Until the chumps smarten up; i.e., forever.

KFG

Bad Data (4, Interesting)

Jethro (14165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882564)

I don't know if this is the same with standalone TiVos, but my DirecTV TiVo box is always on, and always 'recording' two channels. Which means there's pretty much 24 hours a day of stuff I'm watching without skipping anything, plus stuff I am watching and skipping.

Now, they could be ignoring Live TV, but... then they're ignoring when people watch live TV, which I think would be fairly important to advertisers.

Personally I don't care if TiVo (or DirecTV) collect viewing habits, as long as they remain anonymous. I just don't think it's accurate at all.

Re:Bad Data (1)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882628)

I'll bet - given things like pausing and skipping commercials, changing channels, flipping tuners, that they've got a pretty good idea of whether or not it's being activly watched vs. just sitting there. I've always wondered if you use a TiVo remote to turn your TV on, whether it also sends a signal to the box letting it know that there was some activity? Seems obvious. And you could figure out power on / power off based on whether or not the user does other things within a few seconds.

Re:Bad Data (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882684)

I personally don't use a TiVo remote for anything. I've got a Harmony remote (;

Also, TiVo changes channels on it's own in order to record stuff.

And since I got DiscoveryHD I /do/ just let it sit there and watch it. I'm sure that novelty will wear off in a month or two, but still...

They might have some good assumptions going, but I doubt they're anywhere near accurate. ...not that I care if advertisers get some inaccurate data.

Re:Bad Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882810)

I've got a DirecTiVo with hardly anything of my own recorded on it (I finally watched all the stuff that had piled up when I was off for the holidays). However, what it does have is nearly 80 hours of stuff that it thinks I might be interested in. I know for a fact that it (and they) are aware of what I'm watching there. I know this because I've never even so much as given Seinfeld a thumbs up or down, but I've watched a whole lot of the episodes that the thing has recorded on its own for the past two years. And you know what? It keeps on going out and recording an episode or two of Seinfeld a day. I'll usually have them playing as background noise when I'm screwing around online or making dinner or whatever. And honestly, I have no problem with them knowing that I like to have Seinfeld play in the background (I usually don't bother skipping the commercials when it's just background noise).

Re:Bad Data (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882972)

Wow. You watch a LOT of television! Personally, I don't understand what is appealing about ANY TV programming today. Is there really that much stuff worth watching on the "idiot box"?

They've done this since the beginning (4, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882566)

This isn't news. Sure feel free to get up in arms about marketing companies knowing what an anonymous hashed identity is watching.

Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?

 

Re:They've done this since the beginning (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882688)

Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?

So you can use your grandmother's phone number and make someone crunching the data wonder how an 83 year old woman bought apple juice in Walla Walla Washington and a bag of potato chips in Rauly North Carolina within 5min of eachother.

re: "Why do you think loyalty cards exist?" (1)

VidEdit (703021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882872)

"Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?" They can try, but I can get an anonymous loyalty card. Just be careful what name you put on it because the checkers always try and thank you by name. You really don't want to choose a bad name and hear, "Thank you Mr. Dumbsh*t" every time you use your discount card... Try getting an anonymous account with your Tivo subscription. It would be a lot harder. Besides Tivo is even worse in one sense, it monitors you in real time, all the time. However, monitoring by anyone is bad in my book. the fact that your supermarket is spying on you is hardly an argument that the practice should be expanded or is desirable for consumers.

Re:They've done this since the beginning (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882976)

From the looks of it, it's even more innocuous than that. It's not an anonymous hashed identity, it's aggregate statistics. Heck, I run aggregate statistics on my website! And if they were actually worth money, I'd probably sell them too.

Re:They've done this since the beginning (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883008)

Sure feel free to get up in arms about marketing companies knowing what an anonymous hashed identity is watching.
That's one solution. I prefer simply to use my own recording and playback equipment, thankyouverymuch.

Please note, that the supermarkets do exactly the same thing. Why do you think loyalty cards exist?
What's your point? My guess almost all the people who would resent TiVo doing this also resent "loyalty cards."

These days when somebody's charged of a crime these days you often hear "Mr. Jones did a web search for [insinuating search term] 3 days before the crime." Now that purchasing and viewing habits are recorded, I wonder how long until they're used to incriminate and convict people? (Or does that happen already?) I can easily imagine a lawyer running the most gory or emotional scene from a movie for the jury and saying, "now we know what was on Mr. Jones' mind on the day of the crime."

Super-bowl appropriate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882568)

I'm glad this article came out today. I mean, super-bowl advertisements are the worst!

TiVo can make life better for us (4, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882572)

I think an end result (and to some an unexpected result) is TiVo can make life better for everyone with this "service". I've always been a huge fan of TiVo, since they arrived on the scene, so forgive some obvious bias.

How can they make it better? Tivo can supply information to providers of content, and advertisers more valuable than any surveys or polls. Tivo can give real time info (rolled up) of what and how viewers watch their show (and ads). An end result would (potentially) be eventual extinction of really annoying and bad ads... by dint of the fact noone watches them when given an opportunity to skip.

The same goes for content... if noone records a show, or watches it on Tivo buffer, its well earned demise can be accelerated.

Tivo demonstrated just how granular their data are by their disclosure that the Janet Jackson "clip" was the most replayed segment of the Super Bowl... wth? they actually know down to a few seconds of snippets.

Yeah, there may be privacy issues there... but there are privacy issues everywhere, even when there were (are there still?) Nielsen families. My gut tells me there isn't too much interesting in viewers habits other than what they're watching and how much of they're watching. The game is about making money and selling product.

Tivo finally gives the providers feedback that I'd wished for years ago... immediate, and absolute.

Re:TiVo can make life better for us (1)

VidEdit (703021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882950)

"An end result would (potentially) be eventual extinction of really annoying and bad ads.."

This presumes a simplistic senario: that we skip bad ads and watch quality ads. This false dichotomy is a misunderstanding of the options that advertisers and media companies may choose to use. The research data could result in more static and boring ads that still can be read while in fast forward mode or more ads superimposed over the regular programing the way that shows are now obnoxiously promoed. You might also get more Tivo driven ads during fastforwarding. Additionally, now that Tivo is becoming more and more of an insider and less of an upstart the data they sell could lead to Tivo selling out and prohibiting the fast forwading of ads, either totally or selectivly. Tivo could even sell UOP's to advertisers for certain shows and blocks.

It would be a grave mistake to presume that more feedback for advertisers will benefit Tivo users. To presume so would be to presume that Tivo and advertisers have consumers best interests in mind even though there is absolutely no reason to believe any such thing.

Re:TiVo can make life better for us (1)

zurmikopa (460568) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883040)

"The same goes for content... if noone records a show, or watches it on Tivo buffer, its well earned demise can be accelerated."

I wonder if networks would actually look at the popularity of the show, itself, or if they would look at how often the ads associated with that show were watched when determining if they should keep it around.

If it were the latter, then not only would the show have to be good, but the ads associated with the show would have to be good for it to survive.

Nielsen families... (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883060)

Explicitly (as in, not in the small print on a piece of paper hidden in some packing material) agree to have their data shared, and further, they're paid for it.

Re:TiVo can make life better for us (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883082)

How can they make it better? Tivo can supply information to providers of content, and advertisers more valuable than any surveys or polls. Tivo can give real time info (rolled up) of what and how viewers watch their show (and ads). An end result would (potentially) be eventual extinction of really annoying and bad ads... by dint of the fact noone watches them when given an opportunity to skip.

Or...

They make a connection between what shows people skip ads for, and stop buying ad time on them. The shows you Tivo might be a death sentance.

While on the one hand, I appricate the fact that ratings are important, but on the other I don't want to release a high level of detail about my viewing habbits.

Old news (2, Interesting)

milesy20 (94995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882576)

TiVo has long since confirmed this was a practice since delivering that Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" was the most replayed event in TiVo history.

Danger of abuse (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882578)

From TFA:

"I promise with my hand on a Bible that your data is not being archived and sold," said Todd Juenger, TiVo's vice president and general manager of audience research and measurement.
Well that's a very nice promise, but what it misses is that the danger of abuse is a very good reason to avoid something, even if you know no abuse of the system is occuring at present. While this VP can make promises right now, he cannot guarantee that at no point in the future will these techniques be used against customers. TiVo might change their policies, or get bought-out by someone else. Moreover, by building the infrastructure to monitor their customers like this, they are creating an avenue for attack.

This attack may come from someone who cracks the system and uses it to spy on others, or the attack may come from law-suits which (for whatever reason I can't currently imagine) demand that TiVo turn over records of what a particular person was watching. Or maybe this attack will never come.

I would argue that avoiding these kinds of systems is not paranoid... moreover I would argue that avoiding them is necessary. Do not let yet another system be co-opted to monitor you! Even if it is 'for a good cause' (and I'm not convinced that advertising is 'a good cause') it can eventually be used against you.

In short, I'm just going to add this to the list of reasons I prefer MythTV. My device, my control, my privacy.

Re:Danger of abuse (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882794)

This attack may come from someone who cracks the system and uses it to spy on others, or the attack may come from law-suits which (for whatever reason I can't currently imagine) demand that TiVo turn over records of what a particular person was watching. Or maybe this attack will never come.
You mean like the government deciding that some things are inappropriate to watch and they want a record of what you've been watching? They do the same thing already with books if they think you're a "suspicious" person.

I agree, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882838)

BEAR DOWN!

That's all I gotta say.

GOOOOOOO BEARS!

Re:Danger of abuse (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882960)

While this VP can make promises right now, he cannot guarantee that at no point in the future will these techniques be used against customers.

Virtue is not hereditary. - Thomas Paine

KFG

How will they ever know people are REALLY watching (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882582)

so even if someone doesnt have TiVO and they dont flip the channel on commercials how do they still know that people are REALLY watching? for all they know people could be out of the room, talking on the phone, taking a dump or reading the paper or book while putting the commercials on mute.

about people that have TiVO, why is TiVO allowing the advertisers to know when people do this anyway? how much money does it take to buy TiVO and its initial rules of total privacy by the viewer?

Remember Janet Jackson? (1)

drawfour (791912) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882602)

FTA:

TiVo's potential to monitor (and embarrass) millions of people was made clear in 2004 after Janet Jackson's right breast made a surprise appearance during the Super Bowl halftime show.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that three years later, they're finally selling that information. The surprising thing is that it took them this long to decide to sell it. This really isn't any different than the Nielsen rating. Actually, TiVo can replace the Nielsen rating because that uses rough estimates of # of households, # of TVs per household, and surveys that, while they might be representative of the viewing population, are nowhere near exact. TiVo can knows how many active subscribers it has and can determine very accurately what each of those TiVo boxes is viewing/recording/skipping around.

Re:Remember Janet Jackson? (2, Insightful)

markhb (11721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882682)

TiVo can knows how many active subscribers it has and can determine very accurately what each of those TiVo boxes is viewing/recording/skipping around.
But that self-selected group of subscribers is probably not statistically representative of the broader viewing public. Nielsen Media has spent years working on exactly that question.

Re:Remember Janet Jackson? (1)

mdfst13 (664665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883120)

But that self-selected group of subscribers is probably not statistically representative of the broader viewing public.
I'm not sure that that's true. According to http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3623007 [clickz.com] -- 12% of households have a DVR. Sure, there's skew there, but if anything, it's a good skew. DVR owners:
  1. Have enough money to afford a luxury like a DVR.
  2. Actually purchase said luxury.
Isn't that the advertiser friendly demographic? Has money and wants to spend it on the latest labor saving toys?

Nielsen has the reverse skew. It requires people to be willing to accept the inconvenience of an outside service that brings them no individual benefit. This skews *away* from the advertiser friendly demographic of people willing to spend money to reduce time wasted. Also, Nielsen gets confused by technology. If you record a show to watch later, that's more work to count. By contrast, TiVo is the technology; what they count is the use of the technology.

Further, TiVo collects data that isn't in the plain vanilla Nielsens. For example, do you fast forward the commercial? The Nielsen equivalent is getting up and going to the bathroom. They can only track that by survey. People lie to surveys (I watch all the commercials during my favorite show) or simply do not bother to fill them out correctly (aren't you supposed to mark the bathroom break? I can't find the pen; I'll get it later).

Re:Remember Janet Jackson? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883106)

This really isn't any different than the Nielsen rating.

Except that they don't pay the Nielsen viewer anything?

Or that the Nielsen, Arbitron, etc. respondent willingly agreed to provide information on their viewing, listening habits?

Or maybe that the folks at Nielsen provide a clear and unambiguous privacy policy" [nielsenmedia.com] ?

ahhh this is old (2, Insightful)

SQLz (564901) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882606)

This has been part of Tivo's business plan since the beginning.

Titan TV too? (0, Offtopic)

Mspangler (770054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882630)

Elgato's eyetv uses titan TV to schedule recordings. So when I click on the record button, not only do they send the "record this" information back to my mac mini, they also have a clicks worth of information to sell. Much more reliable than a Neilson rating, but not as inclusive since it misses what we watch live.

I hadn't thought of it before, but it makes sense.

OpenCable (5, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882670)

A court just blew the cableTV proprietary platform bundle wide open: TV decoders are now open to outside vendors/deployers [kagan.com] , starting July 1, 2007. That means that complete "cable cards" will become much cheaper, and that really cheap HW will send the raw data to PCs to be decoded in SW, which can be F/OSS.

The cable TV network just became a lot more like an internet, and the Internet just became a lot more like a TV network. For those working on it ourselves, anyway.

So when does MythTV make TiVo look like the Web made AOL look?

Re:OpenCable (1)

Cyraan (840132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882710)

Oh wow, I hadn't heard about this. Thanks for the heads up, the FCC almost seems slightly less worthless now.

Re:OpenCable (1)

markhb (11721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882762)

From the linked article: Count me in this group

Others sniff that it's an unnecessary remedy for a problem that doesn't exist.
From the earlier articles on this, I hadn't realized that my cable company is going to be banned from supplying the current models of set-top boxes. What a complete pain in my ass. TV is at the top of my list of things that should be as much like a toaster as possible.

Re:OpenCable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882936)

As someone paying $6.99 per box per month with no choice in the matter (short of getting satellite), it is certainly a problem that exists for me.

Re:OpenCable (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882964)

There is no way that cablecos will actually stop bundling their own profitable (especially when rented) settop boxes with their service. Theis ruling sets the bar high enough that the inevitable cableco weaseling will still ensure that competitors have access to the "last meter".

Unless of course the Republican FCC [google.com] 's last ditch effort before the new Democratic Congress replaces them to deliver the reasonable rule wrapped in a "poison pill" of draconian overreach succeeds. Tie up the "controversial" extreme rule in court for years, then get it thrown out or discarded whenever cablecos either get their Republican lackeys back, or bribe the Democrats to to do it instead.

But in the meantime, July is looking pretty hot. If it takes longer than August for cablecos to get an injunction to stop this ruling, then the genie will be out of the bottle, and the momentum hard to stop. Especially in foreign countries, like China, Korea and Singapore, which would then just kill American tech right when we ourselves got the next, biggest wave rolling.

Re:OpenCable (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882844)

Interesting Timeline there; one of Vista's key features is CableCard support, which is awfully hard to support when the cable companies keep dragging their feet.

(along with IPv6, which is finally moving along)

Re:OpenCable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882968)

So when does MythTV make TiVo look like the Web made AOL look?

Probably never. TiVo makes MythTV look like ReactOS.

This distinction is wrong (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882690)

"The article mentions the possibility for privacy abuse, but with this application of technology Tivo is not providing access to what any one individual user watches via the service."

This distinction is wrong. Anonymity and privacy are two completely separate concepts. A person's privacy can easily be abused even if his data is kept anonymous. Most people understand information being kept "private" to mean used only for the limited purposes for which they disclosed it, and not re-disclosed in any manner, anoymous or otherwise, unless they agree.

The reason for this is obvious - even anonymous data can be used against you in a manner which is adverse to your own interests. Do you really think Tivo is using this data to help people or further those people's interests? No, Tivo is trying to use this "anonymous" data in a way which is at odds with their users' interests - trying to figure out how to defeat any given individual's commercial-skipping, for example.

Please don't confuse anonymity and privacy. De-identified data can still be used in many ways which are adverse to your interests.

Then why am I paying them? (1)

rsmoody (791160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882716)

If this is the case, why the hell am I being charged for the service and then they are selling my watching habits? I smell MythTV, anyone else smell that? I really despise companies double dipping, WOW for instance, pay for the game AND pay to play it, WTF? You get one or the other, not both! TiVo will probably be getting fired from my household here pretty soon. The only way to get these companies to notice is to hit them in the only place they notice, the pocketbooks. How about they first ASK nicely to sell my watching habits, and then give me a fracking discount on my bill for helping them out?

Re:Then why am I paying them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882812)

I've always kinda wondered why people pay a monthly fee for tivo anyway. I mean, once you buy the hardware they don't really do anything, do they? Well I suppose they do... they collect data on your viewing habits... but I can have people do that to me for free, I wouldn't pay for it monthly!

MythTV for the win indeed.

An idea... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882722)

Can we do this with MythTV, on a voluntary basis, but WE get the cash?

I (2, Interesting)

denbesten (63853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882774)

Tivo must make three groups happy: Stockholders, Customers and Broadcasters. It seems like collecting and selling statistical information can't help but to improve the mood for the least-happy group -- the broadcasters. Having a way to easily survey 20,000 random households to determine which super bowl ads were the most liked (e.g. played more than once per Tivo), determining if people are skipping or watching opening credits to shows, and determining how many people "bail out" in the middle of a new show are all feedback that may help the broadcasters learn that Tivo is not all evil. As a customer, my biggest privacy concerns are addressed by their Privacy Policy [tivo.com] , which clearly states that nothing personally identifiable is collected and that they have an opt-out option for even the anonymous stuff. To make me a really happy customer, I wish that they would return the life-time subscription (even if only available to broadband customers) and that they would figure out how to turn a profit, so that I can be sure that my current Tivo does not someday turn into a boat anchor.

Please, please, PLEASE pay attention to my habits! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882778)

"Wow, most of our viewers fast-forwarded past all 8,064 erectile dysfunction commercials this month but watched quite a few of the video game related ones."

And make some advertising decisions based on that data.

Christ. Enough already.

Amazing how you are all missing the point - HRM (2, Interesting)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882850)

That stands for Hardware Rights Management. TiVos (series 2 and above) are paperweights without this endless subscription "service." As much crap as everyone here gives Microsoft, at least Linux is an option to make PC hardware bundled with Windows operable. TiVos are so locked down via hardware that they are virtually uncrackable and useless without the TiVo extortion payments. Go on the TiVo forums, and all the sheep there call you a thief for merely wanting to use your TiVo without the "service," even as a push-to-record DVR. TiVo has all the sheep fooled into thinking their eternal fees are justified for the privilege of using hardware that the end user bought and owns! Imagine if Microsoft - or GM - tried locking up your hardware (including locking out linux) if you didn't pay an eternal license fee!

This is brilliant! (5, Funny)

2008 (900939) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882854)

"...selling data on what parts of broadcasts people are rewinding for review..."

This can only result in more nudity on TV. Woohoo!

OK, it'll be naked people holding pepsi bottles, but what the hell. Maybe they could do something with them, hint hint.

Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882878)

Isn't this exactly the same as what Google has been doing for years? Of course marketers like to know what's popular and what's not. What's wrong with that?

What do you expect? (5, Insightful)

stickb0y (260670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882894)

Oh come on. Everyone with a TiVo (and even those without) should know that TiVo collects this type of anonymous, aggregate data. Haven't they done that since the beginning? Did you really think they wouldn't provide that data to third parties?

And frankly, I think it's a good thing. You guys bitch and moan when your favorite TV shows get cancelled because the Nielsen families' interests aren't representative of your own. You guys bitch and moan about advertisers not making more interesting commercials. Well, here you have TiVo, making geek-friendly devices collecting television data about shows and commercials that tech enthusiasts actually watch, and now you guys bitch and moan about that too.

The year 1999 just called... (1)

RebornData (25811) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882900)

...it wants its "news" story back.

-R

Good! (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17882906)

I think they should record even more data than that. As long as they dont sell individual identities.

More cleavage on primetime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17882942)

So if I fast-forward through commercials but pause /slo-mo on hot chicks - and they modify the sales pitch to give me more of what I want - how is this a bad thing?

You %fail It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17883004)

number of FreeBSD United Stat3s of

Old News (3, Informative)

Alvin_Maker (316828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883050)

This is old news. It is also very easy to opt-out. Just call Tivo customer service (1-877-367-8486) and let them know.

Duplicate article (3, Informative)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883054)

I know that the collective memory of the Slashdot moderators is less than a day, but this story came out during the 2004 Superbowl:
http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/02/03/18 31222 [slashdot.org]

Sexual Content (1)

Normal Dan (1053064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883062)

Maybe they will realize people rewind and watch scenes with sexual content in them. That means we'll finally have more sexual content and less violence. Yay!

Follow the Money. Data Mining! (2, Informative)

promodog (212621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883068)

I am sure data mining was a thought out revenue stream that TiVo had planned since it's inception.(One reason I never bought one.) Once a critical mass hits it's Tivo's usage, TiVo can sell on going, up to date statistics- Ratings better than Nielson. TiVo didn't build these only to make our lives easy. Follow the money.

this is called ratings. (2, Informative)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883070)

I support tivo doing this. as long as it's not personally identifiable information.
maybe fox wouldn't have cancelled firefly had they known how many people actually watched it.
I also like that they provide info on commercials.
this is the first time, I believe, outside of focus groups that companies have feedback on their commercials.
I personally skip every commercial I can.

I'm all for it (1)

code shady (637051) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883142)

Anything that could actually improve the quality of ads is a plus in my book.

Also, I don't have a tivo, so that helps.

no good reason (1)

creativeHavoc (1052138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17883148)

i see no good reason for paying monthly fees for a company to give your information away. Using a crap computer and somthing like BeyondTV [snapstream.com] you get to watch everything from normal cable to free HDTV... that's more what I am for. Enjoyed it every since i got it.
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