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Calls to prosecute BT for Phorm Trial
Friday 06 June 2008 04:15:32 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Dr Richard Clayton, a highly respected lecturer at the University of Cambridge who has previously published a document describing how Phorm works, has joined existing calls for the authorities to investigate BT for the highly controversial trial of the Phorm ad profiling system. This follows a leaked internal BT report on the system available on Wikileaks. It has already been suggested by the Foundation for Information Policy Research (fipr) that the system is illegal although BT have denied this.

The leaked BT document makes a reference to the original trial which BT's users were not made aware of and suggests that a change in the terms and conditions would be necessary for the implementation, although it is important to note that the document in question was a technical rather than a legal one.

The Phorm advertising platform which profiles the browsing habits of users of participating service providers has been controversial due to the methods used and the difficulty in opting out permanently. Although independent reports have suggested they have gone far to try and strengthen the privacy aspects of the system, there is still an inherent resistance within a community of users which is unlikely to disappear. In a survey carried out by ISPreview, 56.6% of respondents (total sample 1,098) said they would leave an ISP if they implemented the Phorm platform. This also showed that a quarter didn't know what Phorm was. Admittedly it's likely that respondents to such a survey are self selecting to an extent and part of a group of particularly conscious consumers, but it does illustrate the problem Phorm will have trying to persuade the public they are not 'doing bad things'.

Comments

Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
ISPreview probably found the 622 people that give a toss about this.
Posted by _TRIaXOR_ over 8 years ago
Typical herdwick, BT can do no wrong.. *rollseyes*
Posted by soloman over 8 years ago
@ herdwick
You must be a friend of "hamsterwheel". He loves Phorm and is the only other person I know who doesn't give a toss about this!
I want to see BT execs in handcuffs!
Posted by sealion over 8 years ago
I want to see the regulators in the dock next to them - they blythly ignored the issue, and failed their duty to protect the public from this sort of thing.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
Well phorm is a load of overly hyped conspiracy theorist rubbish but hey if it means BT get their bottom sued........ hooray lol
Posted by bosie over 8 years ago
Phorm is a business venture like any other and as such the people involved must be consenting especially those from whom Phorm seeks to profit. The fact BT did not respect this basic principle by allowing itself to assist in the crime, is underhand, and who knows how for long it would have continued had its activities not been caught out? BT deserves to have its bottom smacked and learn from its mistake. The right to privacy must be protected and shown appropriate respect.
Posted by herdwick over 8 years ago
I don't use BT Internet, I don't look at adverts, I use secure methods for anything personal so why would I care about Phorm.
Posted by soloman over 8 years ago
If they get away with this, all the other ISP's will too, regardless of what they say now, or else they will increase their monthly charges for an "unPhormed" connection. Phorm will be able to read what you posted here too!
Posted by carrot63 over 8 years ago
"I don't use BT Internet, I don't look at adverts, I use secure methods for anything personal so why would I care about Phorm."

Perhaps because you might think other, less knowledgable and tech savvy users deserve protection from unscrupulous and exploitative invasions of privacy? Or because you might believe society as a whole is a better, less stifling place when everyones privacy is respected?

Maybe your iSP will sign up to phorm and the govt will ban VPN + encryption. What then?
Posted by c_j_ over 8 years ago
Another possibility which can't yet be ruled out is that BT*WHOLESALE* will start offering this "service", whether their retail ISPs or their end users want it or not. Ofcom would presumably do their usual regulatory job (ie nothing) and that would leave Phorm-incompatible folks the "choice" of a Phorm-free LLU ISP (eg not CPW?) or no broadband.

In the US+Canada, the Internerds are revolting because the wholesalers have cottoned on to selective traffic management (Ellacoyas etc). Phorm in a wholesale setup is a whole lot worse.
Posted by _TRIaXOR_ over 8 years ago
"Posted by herdwick

ISPreview probably found the 622 people that give a toss about this."

um there is a LOT more who give a toss about this..

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stop ISP's from breaching customers privacy via advertising technologies. More details

Submitted by Mark Antony Thompson – Deadline to sign up by: 04 March 2009 – Signatures: 14,001"
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
quote"um there is a LOT more who give a toss about this..

"We the undersigned petition the Prime......... SNIP"

Oh please stop right there, online petitions are pathetic, there is or was one on that .gov site that called for animals with black fur to be banned as pets.... some tripe about a dog with a black coat is more aggressive, and it had over 2000 signatures..... clearly not subjective. Phorm is overly hyped rubbish its only been in the news so much cos BT original ran tests without telling people
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