Comcast Backs Off Web Monitoring

Comcast Corp. backpedaled Wednesday after criticism over its practice of
monitoring cable-modem customers' Web-surfing activities.

The Philadelphia-based MSO issued a statement that it would discontinue
tracking what Web pages its customers visit in light of concerns about customer

Reports earlier this week revealed that Comcast was recording customers' IP
addresses -- which rotate among customers under a Dynamic Host Configuration
Protocol scheme -- and the Web addresses they visited.

This was done in part to gauge what content it should cache on its local
servers and, therefore, to speed content delivery across its network.

But critics argued that while Comcast may not be providing user information
to outside agencies, it could be subpoenaed as part of criminal investigations
and, therefore, used against the customers.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Comcast Cable Communications Inc. president
Stephen Burke said the practice would be discontinued.

'This information has never been connected to individual subscribers and has
been purged automatically to protect subscriber privacy,' Burke said. 'Beginning
immediately, we will stop storing this individual customer information in order
to completely reassure our customers that the privacy of their information is

Burke also stressed that the company does respect subscriber privacy.

'Comcast has not shared and will not share personal information about where
our subscribers go on the Web, either for any internal purpose or with any
outside party, except as required by law,' he said.

'Consistent with our subscriber agreement and our privacy policy, which every
subscriber acknowledges before receiving our service, Comcast reviews
information in aggregate form only for purposes of network-performance
management to ensure an optimal Internet network experience for our
subscribers,' he added.