US Reps Markey, Barton Question Charter About Web Tracking

Two senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are questioning Charter Communications Inc.’s (CHTR) recent announcement that will collect customers’ Web-surfing information as part of an enhancement to its high-speed Internet service.
Reps. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who chairs the Telecommunications Subcommittee and Joe Barton, R-Texas, the full committee’s senior Republican, sent a letter Friday to Charter President Neil Smit asking that the company hold off on its venture until the members can learn more about it.

Privacy concerns mount amid the ‘microchipping of America’: Businesses seek patents on more applications for RFID

Austin-American Statesman Associated Press — 2/4/08 Here’s a vision of the not-too-distant future: Microchips with antennas will be embedded in virtually everything you buy, wear, drive and read, allowing retailers and law enforcement officials to remotely track consumer items — and, by extension, consumers — wherever they go.
A seamless, global network of electronic “sniffers” will scan radio  tags in many public settings, instantly identifying people and their  tastes so customized ads — live spam — can be beamed at them. In so-called smart homes, sensors built into walls, floors and  appliances will inventory possessions, record eating habits and monitor  medicine cabinets — all while reporting data to marketers eager for a peek  into the occupants’ lives. Science fiction? No. In truth, much of the radio frequency identification technology  that enables objects and people to be tagged and tracked already exists,  and new and potentially intrusive uses of it are being patented, perfected  and deployed. Some of the world’s largest corporations are invested in the success of  RFID technology, which joins miniaturized computers with radio antennas to  broadcast information about sales and buyers to company databases. Already, microchips are turning up in some computer printers, car keys  and tires, as well as on shampoo bottles and department store clothing  tags. They’re also in library books and “contactless” payment cards (such  as American Express’ Blue and ExxonMobil’s Speedpass). Companies say the RFID tags improve supply-chain efficiency, reduce  theft and guarantee that brand-name products are authentic. The problem, critics say, is that microchipped products might do a  whole lot more. With tags in so many objects, relaying information to databases that  can be linked to credit and bank cards, very few aspects of life might be  safe from corporations and governments soon, said Mark Rasch, former head  of the U.S. Justice Department’s computer crime unit. By placing sniffers in strategic areas, companies can invisibly “rifle  through people’s pockets, purses, suitcases, briefcases, luggage — and  possibly their kitchens and bedrooms — any time of the day or night,” said  Rasch, managing director of technology at FTI Consulting Inc., a  Baltimore-based company.