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BT Wholesale stamp out independent line checkers
Friday 15 August 2003 11:47:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Several people over the last couple of months, crafted more informative versions of the BT Wholesale broadband availability checker, but in the last week or so BT Wholesale has moved to force people to close these down.

The reasons given for closure are people are potentially in breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA) running these checkers and were also using information that should not be in the public domain.

One of those who felt the heavy hand of BTs legal department is Dan Lane whose checker was for many people much easier to understand than the BT wholesale one, as it provided the simple Red/Amber/Green stages to reflect how high your chances were of getting the various line speeds. The contentious part though was that it interpreted the 'reason code' fully and therefore was useful for prospective broadband users who were trying to find out what the 'incompatible product' was on their line.

It would seem that due to complaints and concerns within the BT legal departments that if people can determine exactly what services are available on other peoples lines then a breach of the DPA has occurred. This means we are now left in the position of BT Wholesales checker having to return vague and woolly information on what is connected to a particular phone line. BT Wholesale themselves used to give clearer information but this was changed some months ago to ensure they did not breach the DPA.

We find that chasing Dan and others over the use of the information that has leaked out of ISPs etc is using scaremongering tactics, as most web developers should be able to figure out how the official checkers work independently of any BT documentation.

We should add that people who are using sites like Vote4Broadband.com to embed demand tracker stats on their campaign websites are unaffected, because the Vote4Broadband demand tracker data does not involve disclosure of any personal information.

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