response from BT webwise team
seems BT may be back tracking
below is a reply i got from BT
Thank you for your email.
Our plans are confined to conducting a opt-in technical trial for about 10,000 customers at the moment.
I want to confirm to you that BT Webwise will always be offered as a choice. Those customers who have chosen not to participate will not have their browsing information mirrored or profiled, and no information will go to the BT managed profiler. No information is gathered, and therefore no information is forwarded to Phorm. Customers who opt out will not come into contact with any Phorm-managed equipment.
Opting in and out of BT Webwise is extremely easy and completely transparent. Standard opt out method does depend on a cookie remaining on your machine indicating that you have opted out. If you delete your cookies regularly, you will have to opt-out again each time you start a browsing session. But for those who delete cookies regularly and want to remain opted out, you can block cookies from the domain www.webwise.net on each browser you use. When you block this domain, the service will opt you out permanently.
In parallel with the trial, we are already developing an opt-out solution that would remove the need for opt-out cookies altogether.
BT Webwise technology is designed in such a way that it is not possible to reverse engineer identity. The service doesn't store personally identifiable information, doesn't store IP addresses or browsing histories of websites visited. The technology simply observes anonymous behaviours and draws a conclusion about the advertising category that's most relevant. All the data leading to that conclusion is deleted by the time each web page is loaded. The service dispels the myth that data on user browsing behaviour must be retained and stored in order to provide more relevant advertising.
I hope this email answers some of your concerns.
BT Webwise Helpdesk
From: peter white [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 13 March 2008 17:20
To: BT Webwise Help Desk G
Subject: RE: Technical enquiry from BT Yahoo! online help (broadband)
May I correct you on several facts
Talk talk have scaled down and now working on opt in and anybody who has opted out the data will not go via the profiler at all (a higher level of privacy than BT)
Virgin media seem to be back tracking to the same position as talk talk from the report on the web
Only BT at this point are proceeding as planned
The anomonised data can still yield id information as AOL found that out last year when it released a ton of anonymised search requests with the user IDs replaced by random numbers; it had to withdraw the list in haste as it became embarrassingly obvious that users could be identified from that information alone.
So by using a random number in a cookie will still enable users to be identified from the data passed from the profiler to the phorm server and so privacy is not guaranteed
The anti-phishing features of webwise is a duplication of the function in
IE7 and I believe also part of the Norton security suite you provide, so I see little value add from that service, the only thing the users will see is an increase in targeted adverts from the businesses signed up to OIX which was the adware rubbish phorm used to push, how many adverts are going to be for uk based businesses (very few I suspect) and due to the high rate of fraud and phishing on the web people are naturally sceptical of any popup and highly unlikely to purchase via them, this I doubt is of little concern as BT will only get revenue from allowing the adverts to be served and not from any form of pay per click on the actual poup-ups
Can you confirm if the data of a user who has opted out or blocked the cookie is still sent to the profiler, and although supposedly not , is still possibly scanned (even if in error)
Can you confirm catagorically that phorm / webwise does not breach my right to privacy under european law of human rights, RIPA, or the data protection act
I understand the data is held on servers run by BT in BT's hosting centres, but the software is provided by phorm whose past appears to be dubious from the forums and information on the web
I will be blocking the cookies on all machines in my house to protect myself as best I can and if webwise goes ahead I will be migrating out of BT asap after the notification
Can you confirm if I Will be offered the option of terminating my contract early due to the changes to the terms and conditions of my contract if bt deem the trial a success and proceed with a full roll out