Your viewing information up for grabs?

Fascinating feature over the weekend in the San Francisco Chronicle about how Tivo viewing habit information is being used by Tivo and, from the looks off it, sold on a pooled (anonymous) basis to broadcasters across the US.

Tivo, in case you haven't come across the beastie, is a personal video recorder that operates like Sky Plus, but can be used for almost any terrestrial or satellite TV service.

Tivos are no longer sold in the UK, but there's a thriving market for second-hand units, and the administration of the system, including the electronic program guide, is handled by Sky.

The fact that Tivo is selling data only came to light after Janet Jackson's `wardrobe malfunction' (i.e. boob display) occurred during the 2004 Superbowl broadcast in the US.

Tivo revealed that gazilllions of its users used Tivo's review/replay function to, um `verify' what they just seen.

This started me thinking about how Sky Plus data is being used by BSkyB.

Looking through the Sky Plus service agreement, it seems that BSkyB pools the data anonymously just like Tivo and I have no doubt that the info is used/sold within Sky and its third party broadcasters.

I'm not happy about this. It's one of the reasons I'm looking at a Freeview personal video recorder. I'll save a fortune on my Sky subscription as well.

Personal privacy? Welcome to the 21st century...