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Privacy Media Television

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 LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:31PM (#8173234)
    TiVo Watches the Super Bowl []... oh, wait, that was about TiVo and the Super Bowl of Two years ago...

    See, TiVo's had their semi-permeable privacy policy since they started, as documented on /. by...
    TiVo Data Collection Ramifications []
    TiVo To Sell Customer Data []
    Nielsen to measure TiVo usage []

    So, if this is shocking news to you that TiVo was able to quickly crunch the data and figure out the most rewound moment of the Super Bowl broadcast, you haven't been paying attention. They had this capability for any massively watched program since day one. It was part of the design of the system.

    TiVo offers a detailed data service to broadcasters which lets them see by timestamp within an episode what moments people watched, rewound, and skipped. Rumoredly, TechTV's The Screen Savers bought that service once for just one episode, and it ended up proving that their managers where right about what people wanted to see a little more than the actual content-making staff wanted to hear.

    The Super Bowl most rewound moment is something TiVo's been doing for years, just for the sake of putting out a press release to get the TiVo name into conversations about what we were gonna be talking about anyway the week after the event... and from Slashdot's coverage over the years, it appears to have worked.
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:32PM (#8173251) Homepage Journal
    From the article, with emphasis added:
    Privacy advocates have decried such technologies as invasive, but TiVo officials say they do not pass along information that would identify individual viewers.

    When gathering customer marketing research, TiVo says it does not link viewer data to their name, gender or age -- only into one big database that can identify users by ZIP code.

    What's interesting is how the article points out what TiVo does not do. They don't "pass along" information "when gathering customer marketing research".

    It's not stated outright, but that sounds like they do record all that information... but it's ok, 'cause they don't use it for marketing purposes.

    Which, of course, puts TiVo right up there with the so-called loyalty cards [] "privacy" policies. They promise not to resell personal information, but they do gather it, and it's available to anyone who knows a friendly judge.

    The bottom line, as usual, is simple. Don't buy anything at Kroger, or watch anything on TiVo, that you wouldn't want [John Ashcroft | your wife's divorce lawyer] to find out about.

    By the way, does anyone know if Dish Network's PVR phones home about my rewinding habits?
  • by fetta ( 141344 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:35PM (#8173283)
    Agreed - the posting was way over the top for something that is old news. If you own a Tivo and didn't know this was taking place, then you haven't been paying attention.

    Now, if a story comes out that they are making my specific viewing habits to anyone, then that would be news.
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:35PM (#8173286)
    They did it last year, they did it the year before that. They stated in their initial company releases that this is what they intended to do.

    And you know what?

    -DirectTV pay-per-view tracks what I watch...
    -My ISP knows what web sites I've requested...
    -My credit card company knows what I spend my money on.
    -My hospital shares its information with my insurance company, which in turn shares its information with my company. (Because they have to pay their share of the bills)

    It's my TV viewing info... I don't care. If anything, if they sell my viewing habits and realize that Firefly and Farscape are more watched than My Big Sweaty Boyfriend... That's a GOOD THING!
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:36PM (#8173304)
    It's possible that if somebody was watching illegal content, the cops could get a warrant, grab the TiVo, and then have a log of every remote click that the TiVo heard, even those for devices other than the TiVo.

    Of course, the extent they could do this is very limited. TiVo units perge this data every time they make a call-in, and once the call is completed TiVo doesn't keep the association between the log file and who sent it unless they have flagged the user's account for support reasons. Also, I know of no real court cases where cops have actually tried to get TiVo data used as evidence...
  • I LIKE It (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crispin Cowan ( 20238 ) <> on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:37PM (#8173319) Homepage
    I like it that Tivo can track my viewing habits. That way, when I don't watch yet another trite and lame episode of "Friends" and instead choose to watch something interesting [], perhaps the morons in network programming will get a fucking clue.

    Crispin, always wanted to be in the Neilson ratings
    Crispin Cowan, Ph.D.
    CTO, Immunix Inc. []

  • much more reliable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Savatte ( 111615 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:38PM (#8173327) Homepage Journal
    Personally, I'd much rather have Tivo tracking users than networks relying on nielson ratings. This can only hurt shows like Malcolm In The Middle and Everybody Loves Raymond, two shows people "love" but nobody watches. With accurate ratings, these shows would have ratings lower than enrollment in daycare at neverland ranch.
  • by s20451 ( 410424 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:38PM (#8173334) Journal
    The trouble is that the information is being collected at all. So while most regular users might trust TiVo, it's important to know that they could, in principle, collect very complete statistics concerning your viewing habits. Either by accident or by subpoena, those records could be released.

    By contrast, if you created a TiVo equivalent from a home computer with a TV tuner card, it would be completely anonymous -- nobody would ever know what you watched unless they had access to your machine.
  • by Ondo ( 187980 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:39PM (#8173336)
    It's not stated outright, but that sounds like they do record all that information

    The TiVo has been hacked, and the information it sends analyzed. According to the hackers no such information is ever sent to TiVo. Or such was the case some time ago when I last heard about it anyway.
  • by egomaniac ( 105476 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:39PM (#8173341) Homepage
    I am utterly failing to be either surprised or alarmed.


    Ummmm ... so? Yes, I would be concerned if they said "Matt Hooper, 26, of Colorado Springs replayed the Janet Jackson breast scene a record 126 times. Sales statistics in the area also show an unusual spike in hand lotion and tissue purchases."

    They haven't said that, or anything remotely resembling that. They have said "Tivo users watched this particular segment of the Superbowl more than anything else." So?

    Yes, Tivo could do something horrible with my personal information. But then again, Hustler could also publish a big long list of everybody that subscribes to it, complete with home addresses, but they don't. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but at some point we just have to have some level of trust in other people. Tivo has said that my information is kept anonymous, and has given me no reason to doubt their word, so I don't see a big problem with trusting them.

    And before you start the "oh-my-god-what-an-idiot-for-trusting-a-big-compan y" standard Slashdot response, think about what you have trusted companies with. How many companies have your name and address? Your home phone number? Your bank account information? Your credit card information? Why did you trust them with such information, if no companies can ever be trusted?

    If you have used a credit card, you must trust every single store at which you have ever swiped your credit card at least as much as I trust Tivo. If you have ever applied for a loan, you've coughed up your bank account information. And you're worried about someone knowing what television shows you're watching?
  • by Str1derv7 ( 614229 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:40PM (#8173354)
    I don't know about you guys but I wouldn't mind Tivo tracking me, in fact, I think I want it to. It'd be nice to track the statistics of some of the shows I like, possibly keeping them on air longer. This could be a good thing.
  • by sflory ( 2747 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:43PM (#8173384)
    I'm in favor of how Tivo handles this. I want the networks to know what I like. I want advertisers to know what commercials I actually watch. That way they can actually write stuff I want to watch.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:44PM (#8173400)
    Only an idiot would believe that Tivo doesn't use ANI information to tie data to individual users

    I connect to the TiVo service through my broadband [] connection. I guess even non-idiots can now believe your statement.
  • by cK-Gunslinger ( 443452 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:46PM (#8173424) Journal

    It's possible that if somebody was watching illegal content, the cops could get a warrant, grab the TiVo, and then have a log of every remote click

    Exactly what kind of "illegal content" is your TiVo going to be playing? Only that which is broadcasted/streamed to your unit from giant media conglomerates. I fail to see how "8:45pm - Channel 725 - 0:13 minutes - volume_down x 3" is going to help convict anyone of anything? Even if you use your TiVo to control your DVD/VCR, how can button clicks associated with your zip code be used for anything?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:48PM (#8173451)

    First, TiVo says they only track it by zip code. You don't completely have to take them at their word, since it's been analyzed. But the thing is, TiVo changes their "privacy policy" at the drop of a hat. And once they change it, you have no recourse but to agree, or to stop using their "service." And if you do stop using their "service" (which is to say, you stop paying them to not disable the hardware you've already paid for), you don't get any money back, unless you can find someone willing to buy it.

    Second, despite what they say, it is more than possible for the data to be correlated to an individual account. Since each box (or, each home in the case of network access and NAT) has a unique IP address, and each box queries the TiVo servers to ensure that the account is still active, and that query gets the account number... well. It's not hard to do the correlation. And my reading of the current "privacy policy" means they can even use this data in this fashion now, since they're not "collecting" it from the boxes.

    TiVo has a great product, but the company is morally slimy. And any potential user must keep in mind that, in TiVo's mind, its customers are not the users, but rather the advertisers they sell the data to.

  • whats to gain by going lower then Zip code? nothing.

    What TiVo provides in an acurate count of what people watch, each within a small segment of an advertised area.

    Any finer data is worthless.

    TiVo:"hey this address watches Bud Commercials, call budwieser and let them know! this way budwieser can try to sell this ONE houshold beer. Of course since it is so individual, it will cost $5000 a six pack."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:53PM (#8173510)
    I don't get it. There seems to be more public outrage at seeing a boob on TV than the apparent "mistake" of going to war based on incorrect information. What's wrong with this country?
  • Worried? No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krieger ( 7750 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:54PM (#8173516) Homepage
    I have to say in general that I don't trust corporations, however I don't feel the need to bolt on my tin foil hat after this revelation.

    I do think that disclosed practices (such as anonymously monitoring for viewing habits) isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm certain that Tivo has found and created new features based on viewing the tracking information.

    I also think that Tivo stands a decent chance of displacing Nielsen's as a premier rating service. And as long as it is done anonymously, it is a god send. As I think that Tivo would more accurately reflect "real" viewing habits. (And of course possibly give it a geek edge, so that our favorite programing gets better ratings).

    The second Tivo transitions over to a non-anonmous tracking service, is probably the day that their company headquarters will burn down. Outraged geeks will storm the place.

    I think Tivo is continuing to walk on the correct side of a very tenuous debate over usability, tracking, and privacy invasion.

    The comparison to Microsoft has to be made... If this were Microsoft I wouldn't trust them to track it, as they have a history of repeated violations of their own policies, written and stated. Whereas Tivo does not have that same history, that I am aware of.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @04:57PM (#8173543)
    Yeah, but would TiVo bother to report survey data that when the margin of is error factored in leads to the possiblity that negative people did that?
  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:00PM (#8173584) Homepage
    I saw the streaker yesterday on Pardon the Interuption. It was a pretty wimpy streak considering he had this odd puffy thong on. If you're not prepared to go full monty, don't streak.

    From the long TV shot, I couldn't make out what was written on his back. It looked like a domain name. Anyone catch it?

    Back to Janet's boob- I used my Tivo to fast forward through the entire aweful halftime show and didn't even know about the flash until Monday. When was the last time Janet had a hit song? Like 10 years ago? Brittney and Madonna kiss and get 10 times the publicity that their latest albums have. It's cool that singers like Alicia Keys and Gwen Stephani keep their tongues and boobs to themselves and get attention with thier actual music.

  • by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:03PM (#8173621) Journal
    This bit of news comes out about every six months. Tivo tracks viewing habits, if you read up on Tivo, its not a big secret. It collects and anonomizes the info, then aggregates it to sell to help offest the cost of the service.

    Why don't I care?

    1) I want TV exec's to know what I watch, so they keep it on the air.
    2) I want Ad exec's to know what I want to buy, and how to make a commercial that captures my interest; I have free will and don't buy things just because Jamie Lee Curtis tells me too.
    3) I want Tivo to stay and business, and better yet find a way to make enough to waive my monthly fee, without resorting to being asses about me hacking my Tivo to add a bigger drive, etc.

    If it bothers you, grab a set of rabbit ears and disconnect from the grid. If you are upset that there isn't a full screen pop-up every time you push a button that the click has been recorded and may be sent to Tivo during the next phone connection, I don't want to hear it. If you own a Tivo and are just figuring this out, then I gotta feel you really aren't all that concerned about this anyway, or you would have bothered to check why your Tivo wants to call out every night.

    Personally, I'd be more concerned about why the cable companies are working hard at getting their boxes installed in your house connected to their two-way network full time. How do you know there isn't a camera inside there?

  • by Yet Another Smith ( 42377 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:08PM (#8173674)
    Google records all its search queries and serves up those statistics. Most people think that's cool. But as long as the database doesn't store any customer-identifiable info, it shouldn't be a big deal. Google logs could track your search habits, which is a much more dangerous bit of information, but we're not worried about it.

    Although I did have a momentary, "Holy crap! They can track in THAT much detail?" shock, it doesn't really raise my bloodpressure.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:11PM (#8173706)
    The entire "sports copyright notice" required by the league is unneeded.... current copyright law doesn't even require "Copyright 2004" to be displayed. Everything gets full copyright protection the moment it is created by default, no action is needed.

    The copyright notice video is basically a communication of "We are the NFL. We have laywers." aimed at putting a little fear into bar owners who subscribe to Sunday Ticket on a residential account when really they need to be paying the higher commercial rate and such.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:13PM (#8173731)
    If channel 725 is HBO and you don't subscribe to HBO, it's a pretty big "gotcha!"
  • by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <marauder404@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:24PM (#8173845)
    They can show that you tried to view channel 725, but they don't know that HBO is actually what was coming into the TiVo, since there's no descrambler built into the box. They just know that you tried to set it as the channel. The channel change may or may not have succeeded.
  • by HardCase ( 14757 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:25PM (#8173856)
    Pretty dang close to the argument-losing Nazi comparison. And casting Tivo's opt-out-able anonymous usage surveys to the holocaust either extraordinarily overstates the Tivo issue or tragically minimalizes the holocaust - you pick. As an AC pointed out, it's comparisons like this that makes people shake their heads and decide that people like you are just paranoid - maybe you are and maybe you aren't, but I don't think that Martin Niemoller would have intended for your misquote of his testimony to the US Congress to be so trivalized.

    Incidentally, the (correct) quote, from the Congressional Record, is:

    When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member of the unions and I was not concerned. Then Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church -- and there was nobody left to be concerned.


  • by enrico_suave ( 179651 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:45PM (#8174139) Homepage
    It's not a big deal, until they start linking the databases and making profile assumptions...

    'uh oh he watches some wacko news network, orders al franken books, and made a trip to the hobby store... you know what that means... he's a terrorist!'

    *Shrug* or something...

  • Prudish hysteria (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:47PM (#8174154) Journal
    From the Simpsons:

    "[Michaelangelo's David] shows part of the human body which, practical though they may be, are EVIL!"

    Sorry for sounding a bit offtopic, but the people that are upset about this to get a life. In a country where it's okay to fry mentally ill people to death, let any eejit carry a gun, consume a huge proportion of the world's resources and invade a country for dubious reasons, exposing a bit of human flesh is greeted with the sort of outrage that you'd think would be reserved for the end of the world.
  • by ManoMarks ( 574691 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:50PM (#8174199) Journal
    It depends on how secure they keep it. I agree, beyond maybe attempting to show that someone viewed a channel they weren't authorized to, I can't see where the illegal content was, unless they could somehow link it to whether or not there was a child in the room and someone's on the Playboy channel. In that case, I almost hope they do catch that person. On the other hand, say they keep the individual data, and someone gets their hands on it. In this day and age of insure computing, not an unreasonable choice. They show that you were viewing say Queer as Folk, or In The Life (a news program re: the Gay community). Could be grounds for blackmail. Or the government can show that you watched a show that had violent imagery on it, and use that to build a case against you in court. Or based on your viewing habits, you start receiving targeted mailing/spam. Keep in mind, TiVo says that now they don't release individualized data. That doesn't mean in the future they can't mine it when their revenues start to dry up. I don't know of their current corporate relationships, but if they are a subsidiary, would it be "releasing" the data to share it with a company they have a relationship with? The potential for abuse is actually fairly large. If you're of the "I don't have anything to hide" mentality, that's fine. But some people do, or at least want the choice in the matter. Of course, you do have a choice in the matter. You can not get TiVo. That's my choice.
  • by theguru ( 70699 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:55PM (#8174256)
    I see more an more of these specialty shows with direct, in show sponsors and I think it's great. Doesn't seem to have reduced the number of ad spots though.

    I don't mind banner ads on web sites. I occasionaly click through one and have made a purchase. In fact, it I know I'm going to order something from, say, ThinkGeek, I'll hit my favorite site that usually has ThinkGeek banner ads first and try to make the purchase via a click through. The company still got my money and I hopefully helped out the site. I never make purchases from unsoliceted e-mail though, and outright avoid those companies.

    If I go to a web site, I expect to see some on topic, non intrusive banner ads, just like I expect commercials on TV. They're more useful for me and the advertiser (and in the long run, the site/show being sponsored) if they're ads I actually need.

    I've written a few custome applications for companies that do marketing tracking, customer care card, coupon redemtion sorts of data collection. These people aren't evil. They're just trying to be more effective in their advertising. Most don't want to waste time or money advertising to people who don't/won't purchase. They aren't collecting the fact that I bought shoe polish and a frozen TV dinner at 2am to sell it to big brother, because that's just some wierd ass purchase and I must be a bad person that should be put on a watch list... they do it becuase if they can find out that people who buy X usually buy Y, or that any time Z is on sale for $.75 off, I buy 10 of them, they can better plan their ad campaigns. If they waste less money on marketing, but are just as succesful, in a perfect world, I'm better off as a consumer. In the real world, I remain employed because I sometimes write these applications that companies see a return on, and my 401K does better because these companies turned a proffit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @05:57PM (#8174280)
    What law disallows commercial skipping?
  • by WebGangsta ( 717475 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @06:07PM (#8174386)
    As others have pointed out, this is old news. Take a gander:

    Investor's Business Daily [] (body-cavity search required) said on Jan 15, 2004 that "... Nielsen has been tracking TiVo use since August 2002, but it hasn't released any findings publicly."

    USAToday is featuring TiVo popularity [] information in their television listings: "On Wednesday January 28 USA TODAY unveils an enhanced package of television ratings coverage in the LIFE section, including a monthly listing of the Top 10 most rated programs based on an analysis of anonymous, aggregate data from 20,000 TiVo households."

    And you can read more about Nielsen partnering with TiVo [] from a while back.

    TiVo reporting aggregate TV viewing habits is no different from cable companies being able to tell what channels you're choosing to watch on your digital cable box, from websites gathering referrer and browser information from visitors, or movie studios talking about what the largest grossing movies were over the weekend.

    I welcome TiVo's use of aggregate (*not personalized*) gathering of data for reporting to the networks. With luck, this could result in the networks deciding to keep certain shows that have high record/replay/time-shift value instead of cancelling them because nobody wants to watch those shows exactly when the networks choose to air them. If my TiVo usage can help dictate the types of shows that the networks will (or won't) air, then this is a win for all of us.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @06:15PM (#8174475)
    They charge too much for stuff that should be free?

    Why should everything on TV be free? It costs money to make and distribute content, and to make the tivo box itself and the infrastructure behind the service and you think all this should be provided for free?

    What is it you do? programmer? sysadmin? plumber?

    Will you write me a new OS (which is 100% backwards compatible with my old one, of course), build out my new computer to run it (the hardware wants to be free, also), and then fix the leak under my kitchen sink? (for free of course using your own tools).

  • by Atryn ( 528846 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @06:48PM (#8174829) Homepage
    These images will stir emotions in children that are too young to have or handle such emotions.
    Who are you to question Mother Nature? I don't think you can decide when a child is too young to be turned on.

    That being said, you do have a right as a parent to make this choice for your family and this incident prevented parents from making that choice.
  • by TwoStep ( 36482 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @06:51PM (#8174847) Homepage
    I'm shocked that logic like that makes sense to you.

    Do you go to movies in the theater? Do you see ads before the movie? Do you get in free?

    Do you ever go to professional sporting events? Do you see ads everywhere in the stadium? Are tickets free?

    Do you have a credit card? Do they send you ads with your monthly bill? Do you also pay them an annual fee (or maybe you don't)? Do you pay when you are late with a payment? Do they charge you interest?

    Lots of companies cannot survive on just one revenue stream. If you didn't want them to collect the data, you can call them and opt out of the data collection.

  • by Mike Hawk ( 687615 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @06:52PM (#8174864) Journal
    From the people will argue anything department...

    You seem to agree with the notion that it is conceivable that an individual child is too young to handle the visual and thus the parent should have the choice and that this incident precluded that choice. Why split hairs over which children those are when the granparent post did not specify such? It is likely that an event watched by millions included at least one such child.
  • by Atryn ( 528846 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @07:19PM (#8175113) Homepage
    Television, let alone nearly naked people depicted on television, is not natural. The television is a man-made invention, and it's exposing our children to things much earlier in life, and in a very different context, than what God had intended.
    Hmmm, you must not be a biblical christian or else you would believe that God intended for none of us to ever wear clothing.

  • by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @07:51PM (#8175403) Journal
    This wasn't just a bare breast, The dancers and music created a very sexual image.

    In other words, you are claiming that there will be a similar outrage even if there was no breast bared. I disagree. I think it would've been business as usual otherwise.

    This is exactly about a bared breast.

  • by fullofangst ( 724732 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @08:05PM (#8175519)
    Tivo are collecting information to help them make their service better. It doesn't matter which way you look at it, whether you believe them straight off or think they are selling your information to Bill Gates so he can attack you with Windows XP CD's on your way to work.

    If Tivo get ZERO feedback from users (privacy fanatics), they won't have a clue if their stuff is good or not. They NEED feedback. Seems tracking 20,000 over superbowl is a pretty good way of getting it. I mean if they really are recording all those button presses, they'll be able to tell if people are having problems with a particular function. Maybe they are hitting buttons waiting for a menu to update, and in the next iteration of Tivo - bang, no more slow menus...
  • Some Thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TSage ( 702439 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @08:20PM (#8175627)
    It's interesting to see how many highly moderated posts are behind Tivo 100% as long as it remains anonymous. Personally, I'm OK with a company doing this as long as they're completely upfront about it (which Tivo is), although I'd be a little wary (again, that's just me).

    However, this honestly seems to be one of those moments where Slashdot, as a community or group, becomes somewhat hypocritical. Note: individual posters agreeing with Tivo are not necessarily being hypocritical and this isn't me trying to lecture anyone who does support that company. Please allow me to explain why I think this.

    Look at other cases where companies, or even governments, can or do collect anonymous information (or information that is then only handled in an aggregate way) and Slashdot usually cries out against them with the usual tinfoil hat jokes.

    RFID tags is one such example. These are inherently benign and don't have much connection with an individual. Say you have a coat with an embedded with a chip which when read says, "CoatCo Coat, black, large" to the reading device. What if a reading device read that each time you walked into a store and that store then showed companies in an effort to get more direct marketing? It is essentially the same thing, as long as anonymity is kept.

    "Ah ha!" some might say. "But hooking it up to video-cameras and receipts with my credit card, they can identify me readily." This is all quite true, but you could say the same with Tivo; they could correlate your credit card number, address and telephone number if they wanted to. Obviously, many people would not agree to such an invasion of privacy and Tivo probably would not succeed in doing so, nor am I trying to suggest that Tivo is just waiting for the right moment.

    Now, RFID tags are not exactly the same as Tivo watching television habits. One big one is that you choose to watch Tivo, but you may not necessarily be knowingly choosing to have a RFID tag in your merchandise. But I think the comparison is still valid. Too, I find Tivo recording my information somewhat more disturbing than someplace finding out I prefer some type of jacket; in the store I'm in a public place and therefore have a lower expectation of privacy (people can see and recognize my jacket with their eyes), while at home it's somewhat unnerving.

    Just to reiterate, Tivo is not "wrong" or "right" in this case. This is a personal issue between customers and a company. I just wanted to point out that perhaps Slashdot as a whole is giving Tivo a little bit of an easy ride. Then again, perhaps they've earned it for seeming (I don't own one) to respond so well to their customers.

  • by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Tuesday February 03, 2004 @09:32PM (#8176127) Journal
    Fell like I'm getting trolled here, but I have to...
    You do realize that clothes are a man-made invention as well? Fact is, being clothed is unnatural, look at every other mammal out there, how many of them wear clothes (not counting the abused cats and dogs that are dressed up by thier owners)?
    We have adapted to colder climates by wearing clothes, but somewhere along the way, someone got the bright idea that men shouldn't let thier penis show, and that women shouldn't let either thier vagina or mammaries show. What's the friggin' point? People aren't going to become raving lunatics because they see other people naked, if anything suppressing those sexual urges, the way we do in our society, is going to lead to deviant behavior (catholic priests, anyone?). The worst that is going to happen is that some guys are going to get hard-ons, and some women are going to start to lubricate, and even that will not occur as often, when everyone becomes used to the idea of seeing other naked people.
    The only reason people are so obsessed with being clothed is that they are afraid of being judged. Guys are worried that they are too small, and women are worried that they are too fat. So, they hide, and force everyone else to hide, lest they have thier inadaquicies infered by being covered. Add to that the religious idiots who want to portray sex as evil, and you get what we had Monday, people over-reacting to Janet Jackson showing off her breast.
    Lastly, assuming that your reference to God is from the Christian mythology, have you even read Genesis? Adam and Eve didn't start out clothed, or even care about it!

  • by yngwie0 ( 597057 ) on Wednesday February 04, 2004 @01:42AM (#8177563)
    Don't forget that the bible is a man made invention....

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