Hugh Pickens writes "As companies collect, use, and disseminate data regarding online users, there is concern that tracking individuals' Internet activity and gathering information from online users violates their expectations of privacy. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to look at the policy issues, and the hottest topic will be proposed systems by which ISPs can watch users and sell information about their surfing habits to advertising companies. The Center for Democracy and Technology has issued a report suggesting that these systems may violate federal law (PDF). 'Advertising per se is not the evil here,' says Leslie Harris from CDT. 'It's the collection of individuals' information, usually without their knowledge, always without their consent, creation of profiles and the complete inability of people to make choices about that.' On the other side NebuAd, the most active ad-targeting company, says its profiles are interest-based, and not personally identifiable. 'We have designed our entire company to make sure that we stay on the opt-out side of those laws and policies,' says NebuAd CEO Robert Dykes. Charter Communications announced last month that it would suspend a trial of NebuAd due to customer concerns about privacy."