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Tivo Tracks Superbowl Viewing Habits 543

ThePretender writes "Sprinkled in the Janet Jackson boob stories is an alarming bit of information: Tivo tracks subscribers' viewing habits. They know how many times the boob was viewed, among other good-to-have (meaning data worth $$) information. Yes, if you agreed to Tivo's privacy policy you knew they could do this, with the promise that you aren't identifiable. Put on the tin foil hats? Or just another way for them to keep your monthly fee down (snicker)." A story from 2002 has more information and makes clear that Tivo does have the capability to record every click you make on the remote control, at all times. Previously Tivo said they tracked 10,000 people for the Super Bowl, this year 20,000.
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Tivo Tracks Superbowl Viewing Habits

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  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:36PM (#8173307)
    Any anonymization Tivo claims to perform on data uploaded by an individual's Tivo unit is rendered utterly and totally worthless by the medium by which the data is transferred - a landline. Only an idiot would believe that Tivo doesn't use ANI information to tie data to individual users, even if the actual clickstream data being uploaded doesn't have include a serial number.

    The marketing opportunities are too valuable to the company for them to ignore the possibility of selling detailed, individual viewer data as a revenue stream.

    "Tivo: It's like Gator, for TV!"


  • by Aaton ( 216314 ) * <> on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:39PM (#8173337) Homepage Journal
    The offical press release from TiVo [].

    Is show some more detail about what commercials were most watched also...

  • by IdleTime ( 561841 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:39PM (#8173343) Journal
    Here are a few links to a page on Norways biggest Newspapers website that show all the picture uncensored and even have the uncensored movie of her. Oh yes, it also includes the streaker that nobody in the US saw.

    Click on "Neste Bilde" to see the next picture []
    Video []
  • by allism ( 457899 ) <alice.harrison@ g m a i l . com> on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:42PM (#8173371) Journal
    Tom Ridge is the Director of Homeland Security.

    The joke would have been funnier if John Ashcroft [] had been the target.
  • Unplug the phone (Score:4, Informative)

    by ( 114827 ) <> on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:02PM (#8173610) Homepage
    You could unplug the TiVo from the phone.

    Sure, I rewound the Janet thing a dozen times while my wife and I discussed if that thing was a pasty or tassel or what, but TiVo didn't include me in the 20,000 because our TiVo isn't hooked up to the phone.

  • Link to stats (Score:3, Informative)

    by sckeener ( 137243 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:08PM (#8173670)
    Here's a link to the stats []

  • by jmpoast ( 736629 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:19PM (#8173787)
    Obviously it's not going to send your name/age etc every time, but I'm sure TIVO has that information about you already stored in their database, then they only have to link the information coming from your tivo to the information they already have stored about you.
  • Re:WHERE'S TEH B00B! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:25PM (#8173863)
    Here? []
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:43PM (#8174101)
    While we may not have slipped that far yet (I stress *may*, as CBS's refusal to run pro-democratic ads during the Superbowl while running pro-Republican ads tells a very different story IMHO), we are most certainly well on our way.

    Interesting. Citation, please?

    Aside from several [] (non-CBS) newscasts [], including the BBC, there is this [] at
  • by jacoby ( 3149 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:58PM (#8174292) Homepage Journal
    OK, saying that they won't run the ad because they don't do "issue" advertising and then playing the anti-tobacco ad is a bit hinky. I
    must agree on that. And, I must say I was doing stuff on the computer during most of the game, so the big yardage play and most of the commercials were ignored by me. I even missed the titty. But I didn't see a pro-Republican ad in the mix.

    0f course, all the Republicans I know are non-smokers and non-drinkers, and the last Democrat politician I met was a liquor distributor, so I skew the Bud ads pro-Dem. Your mileage may vary on that.
  • by severoon ( 536737 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @06:10PM (#8174419) Journal

    TiVo's online FAQ [] explaining how to get them to stop collecting anonymous information from your TiVo.

    TiVo's complete privacy policy []

    Yes, if you own TiVo and you don't like the idea of them collecting information about you, even anonymously, give them a call and let them know and they'll stop. No big deal. Of course, /. being a geek haven, I'm sure more than one person has hooked TiVo up to their home LAN and they monitor the network traffic to TiVo, so you can both see what they're already sending and what they send after you make the call.

    I personally don't have a problem with this because of the manner in which they collect the information and what they're likely to do with that information. I guess if you're super-paranoid, you could reason that Scott Richter might buy out TiVo and start using all of the non-anon'd data (if they even keep it, which is probably spelled out in their privacy policy, which I'm too lazy to read). But, just for comparison...

    Did you know that every time you use your credit card, the credit card company tracks your shopping habits? This wouldn't be so bad, but then they boast about the degree to which they're collecting information about you by sending out an itemized list of the things you bought every month, right to your door! The nerve!

    If only these companies would take the hint from TiVo and let us simply place a call, and they'd stop registering that sort of data. That would be great, wouldn't it?


  • by Parsa ( 525963 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @06:11PM (#8174431) Homepage
    you would have bothered to check why your Tivo wants to call out every night.

    To download guide data?

    I have a TiVo and knew about the policy. As long as they don't identify me specifically but use aggregated data, I'm fine with how they do it.

    I wish networks would use more TiVo info to know what shows to cancel and what not to. But users are such a small sample of the population it's hard to do that...yet.


  • Hack Your TiVo! (Score:4, Informative)

    by lophophore ( 4087 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @07:09PM (#8175006) Homepage
    This is yet another good reason to hack your TiVo.

    Once properly hacked [] you can telnet to your TiVo and purge the keystroke logs! (in /var/log, where else!?) Not to mention the other nifty capabilities, like web-based control [] and Video Extraction []...

  • If you're really concerned about it you can call TiVo's 800 number and opt out of the data collection, no questions asked.
  • by Shardis ( 198372 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:11AM (#8177682)
    Christ, people are idiots.

    I work for one of the biggest (if not the biggest) privately owned company in the US of A, and we collect *incredibly way* more information than we ever give out. It's all just marketing fodder, trust me.

    I always forget how big we are since we're HQ'd in such a rural environment, but we've got terrabytes on all of our customers. Buying habits, *any* poll we've ever put out, anything anyone buys that we know about, anything from *any* business unit and cross correlated, and all tamped down to individual people.

    It's funny! I tracked down a "long lost Aunt" of mine that I haven't seen and have wanted to chit-chat with for 15 years or so with our company records.

    (Sad part is, within the company, anyone could do this, and we have 50 million customers or so with at least 15k employees)

    When she asked me how I got her number (wasn't upset, just curious) I let her know that she buys frozen pizzas that we sell from her local grocer with a credit card that we (apparently) track.

    It's almost sad how technology has totally boned our personal privacy without %95 of us knowing it. I've got a credit card and debit card, but if you expect *any* privacy these days with anything, use cash - if possible.

    The day I dread most is when cash is no longer accepted. We'll be able to be tracked almost down to the day/hour just off our electronic signatures of whatever sort. *sighs*
  • I asks nicely first (Score:2, Informative)

    by prodangle ( 552537 ) <> on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @02:54AM (#8177800) Homepage Journal
    When I turned my Tivo on for the very first time, it asked me very clearly if I would mind them recording anonymous usage data. I said 'Yeah, why the hell not', but anyone has the option to decline.

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.