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Lately I've been reading a lot on Drecom's ad4u targeted ad technology in Japan. Ad4u has been somewhat on the Japanese web radar for its controversy over invading user privacy.

So what is ad4u? Drecom is currently keeping the exact details of this technology a secret (awaiting patent in Japan) but the concept is very simple. Ad4u uses javascript to analyze user's browsing history and then displays relevant ads based on this information. For example, since I mostly visit programming and web development blogs, ad4u would mostly likely return a tech related ad for me versus if another user visited a lot of real estates sites, they would see real estate ads. It's different from something like Google Adsense in that ad4u returns relevant ads based on the user's browsing history and not the web page content.

However as I mentioned above, there has been some expressed concern over privacy with ad4u. Would you want Drecom to know that you visited an X-rated site? I wouldn't ^_^. I asked my wife and she said she didn't want people knowing that she visited mixi or even yahoo news.

So is it okay to check someone's browsing history? What are the rights?

It will be interesting in seeing how ad4u will do in the market. I'm sure that the vast majority will not even know that their browsing history is being used to serve more relevant ads.

Links:
http://it.nikkei.co.jp/internet/news/index.aspx?n=MMITbe00001510200...

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Comment by Scott Murphy on October 30, 2008 at 8:21am
Hi Stephen,

I agree with you. I don't have issues with it so long as they can never identify individual browsing histories and they don't release the information to a third party.
Comment by Stephen McMahon on October 29, 2008 at 11:04am
I personally don't have a problem with it using my browser history to present more targeted ads as long as it doesn't save the information and resell it or otherwise make it available to a third party. While there is no controversy in my political views, I'd be more concerned with something that made use of that information than anything else, I believe.
Comment by Scott Murphy on October 29, 2008 at 10:16am
Ah, forgot to add that Drecom has responded to the claims saying that they don't save any of the data and all processing is done on the client side. So technically, Drecom does not keep an electronic record of what sites that I've visited.

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