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NebuAd: The Snoop is Dead; Long Live the Snoop!

May 19, 2009 , , , ,

About a year ago, Free Press and Public Knowledge published a report indicating that NebuAd had conspired with over a dozen US ISPs to conduct no less than Wiretapping, packet forgery, and browser highjacking

Over the past 24 hours, there have been several reports that NebuAd — which never was a company that was quite square with the truth — told a court in a civil case that they were shutting down: about to shut off the lights and close the door for the final time. 

Or is it? This is, after all, NebuAd.

In an article entitled, Case Closed: Nebuad Shuts Down, reporter Wendy Davis explains:

The closing came to light over the weekend, when lawyers filed a letter notifying U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco about the closure. “From a company that once employed over 60 people, NebuAd now operates with a skeleton staff, and shortly, that too will disappear,” wrote attorney Alan Himmelfarb.

Monday, NebuAd filed court papers confirming that it had assigned remaining assets to an entity that will pay off creditors.

Himmelfarb notified the court about the impending shutdown as part of a request to inspect NebuAd’s documents and records before they are placed in storage. NebuAd’s lawyer opposed that application, stating that NebuAd had moved files from its now-closed Redwood City office to another office in Foster City months before this lawsuit was filed.

Himmelfarb, of the law firm KamberEdelson, represents more than a dozen Web users who sued NebuAd in November for allegedly violating their privacy by purchasing information about their Web activity from Internet service providers and using that data to send targeted ads.

Well, wait a second. 

NebuAd was the company that said that users could opt-out, but upon further investigation it became clear that you couldn’t opt-out of your ISP sending your data to the snooper, you could only opt-opt out of the targetted advertising that resulted from the snooping.  

These are the guys, after all, that said they required the ISPs to proactively notify their customers before eavesdropping on their ‘net conversations (when, as it turns out, none of NebuAd’s ISP partners actually went out and told their customers anything about it).

So, just because NebuAd says it’s closing doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not still in business

Alexander Hanff of nodpi.org reports that NebuAd still up and running in the U.K., now under the moniker of “Insight Ready.”

Insight… heh, good name for an DPI-in-the-ISP snooper.

Says Hanff,

Nice try NebuAd but you really made it very easy for us to uncover your plans – you should have at least had the old NebuAd phone number changed for the new company and chosen a name which you had not already promoted 8 months previously.

Great work, Alex and friends! This site or this one appear to be a bit of a placeholder, but Alex reports someone is answering the phone under the new name.

NebuAd has some interesting parallel’s with the company Phorm, who wants very badly to turn their algorythms on to everything Britons have to say through their ISPs.  Both are US-based companies, both had roots in Spyware, and both snooped on consumers without telling them first.

While the United States has seemed to have successfully chased its vermin out of the country, those in the U.K. haven’t been so lucky… according to recent media, Phorm seems ready to commence operations Real Soon Now.