NebuAd On House’s Radar Again

House Energy & Commerce Committee to examine online-advertising venture involving NebuAd, Embarq.

House Energy & Commerce Committee leaders took aim at another online-advertising venture involving NebuAd.

Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) and ranking Republican Joe Barton (Texas) wrote communications company Embarq (phone and Internet bundled with satellite TV) raising questions about a test to tailor advertising to Web-browsing histories using NebuAd.

They want answers to a raft of questions by July 21.

Pointing out that they have concerns about online privacy in general and in particular are concerned that Embarq may not have notified customers that they were being profiled during a test with NebuAd earlier this year, the legislators want some information from the company, including where the test was conducted; how many customers were involved; how customers were notified and, if not, why not; why it was an "opt-out" rather than an "opt-in" model; and more.

Charter Communications conducted a similar test with NebuAd but discontinued it under pressure from Barton and House Telecommunications Subcommittee chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who were concerned about the privacy issues.

Online advertising and its implications for privacy issues have been heating up on Capitol Hill and have been the subject of several hearings including ones scheduled for Tuesday morning in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on the online-advertising partnership between Google and Yahoo.