back to article BT's third Phorm trial starts tomorrow

BT will invite thousands of its broadband subscribers to voluntarily participate in a third trial of Phorm's advertising targeting system starting tomorrow, the two firms said this morning. The trial was originally scheduled to begin in mid-March, but has been repeatedly delayed amid technical problems and legal controversy. It' …

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I don't like...

Mondays. I want to shoot the whole day down.

This is so depressing. It's like standing by and watching an accident happen in slow motion and not being able to do a thing to warn the victims. Phuck Phorm. Again and again.

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It must be stopped...

It's astonishing that every country has come down hard on these forms of spyware yet the UK government have promoted it and similarly the British police have endorsed it as criminally exempt.

It's even more sickening to discover Bt/Phorm are considering involving national charities to assist them in peddling their wares to the public in exchange for generous donations.

I have read the sample Bt/Phorm Webwise interception page and it clearly conflicts with the ICO's requirements, it is not transparent, it is not sensitive to users wishes and it is most ambiguous in stating the correct terms in smallest print.. To me it is identical to every other known spyware scam on the internet that has plagued us for so many years and caused so much harm to everyone.

It must be stopped.

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Brishit Telecom.

Will you please just Phuck of now, already.

Please, Phuck OFF.

Just Phuck off.

It's like some cheeky tw*t at school or something.

Just Phuck off. Right off.

For Phuck's sake, leave us alone and Phuck off.

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Well, at least they're actually asking this time...

Now all they have to do is sort out everything else. There's still the problem with copyrighted content on websites, and I know that some people have issues with it being cookie-based.

Still, it'd be nice if they just Phucked off and stopped shoving marketing spin down peoples throats.

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Good bye BT Broadband

can someone recommend a good ISP, preferably that offers TV with a HDMI output?

is it worth making the move over to, dare I say it, Sky?

BT can go phuck themselves, I know at least 20 people who will now be leaving BT because of the adoption of this invasive technology.

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Ash
Stop

BOYCOTT

If you see this page asking you to join the service, PHONE ACCOUNTS AND TERMINATE YOUR CONTRACT. There is no other way to get these corporate whores to listen than by taking away your business EN MASSE.

I can promise you now, should I EVER find Virgin joining up with this service, i'll drop them like a hot potato covered in anthrax.

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N

No way

Being as our own spineless government wont take action, perhaps the Eurocrats will, or are they in cahoots with Kunt & his chums as well?

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so how does this work?

I admit i've not used bt internet, but is it relying on a portal page to show this invite or is it already intercepting traffic and redirecting people to this invite page?

I imagine if the latter then anyone who blocks the cookie will effectively lose their access to the web as every request for a page will get redirected to invite them to take part?

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Browsing profiling is now legal?

So if someone collects the browsing information from the Chief Exec of BT and publishes it that's OK? No criminal procedings will ensue? Knock out, lets go for it!!

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Move to someone else

As soon as the Phorm story broke, I dropped BT and moved straight to Be. Much better service all round.

BT's response was "If we could give you a better price, would you stay?" Shows that they simply don't understand the issues here...

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

"If the cookie is deleted at any point, the invitation page will be displayed again."

So the cants will keep nagging you if you remove unwanted cookies ? Isn't harassment against the law either ?

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Spybot, Lavasoft and others, do your bit

Add their cookie to your spyware software ASAP, please. :-)

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Anyone know how to confuse the damn thing??

Anyone know what would happen if I wrote a script to randomly open a close websites (100's per hour whilst I'm at work on my home computer) to confuse or overload Phorm?

What would happen if 1000's did this at the same time?

My theory is if you feed false info, nobody's going to take phorm seriously after a few months.

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Black Helicopters

Pah

"voluntarily participate" & "invited". Interesting that they NOW use these phrases/words.

After all, it was all LEGAL wasn't it? Oh sry i ment to say ILLEGAL but acceptable in the grand scheme of things for "backdoor" brown. ID Cards anyone?

Really interesting that you can opt out with a cookie... So does this mean BT/Phorm still intercept the traffic to see if the cookie is Opt IN or or Opt OUT ??? Dont bother answering, we already know the answer.

After all this is all LEGAL init ?!

as per the title - Pah

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Re: Boycott

I'm with you on this one. If Virgin start Phorm trials, I will also be leaving them and have made my concerns clear to their CEO although I didn't get a reply...surprise...surprise.....

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Mat

Charities..

If everyone wrote to these charities and let them know that they would no longer donate to them if they accepted money from Phorm - I'm sure they'd soon re-think their stance.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Spybot & lavasoft

I have emailed both of those to ask. I will of course pass any response on to El Reg should I receive one.

Doubt its gonna happen tho

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How do they prove the account owner has agreed to use "webwise"?

Surely they should be seeking my permission as the account holder. What if my 5 year old daughter clicks Yes when it pops up...

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If you gave BT a clue, they'd raise a support ticket for it

"BT Webwise uses a cookie stored on trial customers' computers to remember their preference. If the cookie is deleted at any point, the invitation page will be displayed again."

So, if you have your browser set to reject cookies from non-trusted sites (or to reject them unconditionally), this effectively performs a denial of service for Web use. Nice.

Likewise, if you use non-browser retrieval (for example wget, to retrieve pages automatically for repurposing or caching), that makes the broadband functionally useless. Outstanding, BT, truly outstanding.

And, for your next trick, how about injecting full-page adverts into the user's browsing, with a tiny "Go to the URL you actually asked for>>>" link at the bottom?

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Just emailed this to all employees at our company:

If anyone uses BT Broadband you may get an email asking you to join BT Web Wise.

Please make sure you DON’T do this. The system is being fronted as a security tool, but in actuality monitors ALL of your internet usage and uses it to target you with advertising. This includes but is not limited to all websites you view, any details you enter into websites (including passwords, bank details etc) messages sent via instant messaging clients such as MSN and your personal emails.

The system is currently under investigation by the European courts and the Information Commissioners Office for breaches of the data protection act and wiretapping laws.

Please forward this email on to anyone you know who uses BT Broadband and feel free to sign the downing street petition against Phorm (the company behind Web Wise) here:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ispphorm/

Thanks.

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So, basically...

...BT and Phorm will STILL be non-consensually intercepting your traffic, even if you opt out; what they do with that intercepted traffic is hardly the point - they shouldn't be intercepting it to start with. And they are STILL (despite what the lying little shits said) using cookies to determine whether you've opted out or not. So they're STILL a bunch of lying scumbags, except that in the face of the supine acquiescence of those incompetent, ineffectual wastes of oxygen at the City of London Police, they have a LICENSE to be lying scumbags. One hopes that the judicial review of the CLP's decision to not prosecute will reach an appropriate conclusion, but one doubts it. Once again, it's clear that RIPA is a weapon to be used against the individual, not a means of protecting them.

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Re: Anyone know how to confuse the damn thing??

Especially if they are BT's and Phorm's own sites!! Why break other peoples??

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Catching the bastards at it

Anybody know if there's a way my CGI scripts can detect if requests are coming through Phorm's servers?

I reckon if we can spot it and use that to print "you are being spied on" warnings on pages that might bring it home to people what's going on.

And since every page on my sites carries a header stating that I don't consent to traffic being intercepted, I'd then know they're still doing it, so I can kick them.

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An Alternate Reality ....... with Probability Perspective ....... .Alt Per

Re It must be stopped... By Bobby Posted Monday 29th September 2008 09:34 GMT.

Move On, Bobby, it is Far too Late for that to be Either a Viable or an Available Option.

Sign Up for IT and BetaTest Available WAIres, is AI SMARTer Derivative Benefit Revealing Needs for Feeding ..... Source Driving.

Now where is that dotted line on which One Signs :-)

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Tell everybody

Stunning development - not. BT are simply relying on the majority of their users being clueless about the invasion of privacy and so are trying to normalise it. They clearly don't hold the interests of their actual customers over their shareholders, so they are, scum. Bottom feeding scum. Of course they could hold the belief that their shareholders as their real customers and their subscribers as simply a resource to be milked. Still makes them scum. The only way to educate a company like this is through customers walking. More publicity is the key.

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Not really an opt-out, is it?

"BT chief press officer Adam Liversage confirmed that opted-out traffic will pass through the system during the trial, but said it "will not be mirrored or profiled".

So if you opt out, your data still goes through the system, but they promise not to do anything with it. Well that's ok. After all, they're both reputable, trustworthy companies who would never lie to us.

Oh, wait....

Not In Any Way, Shape or Phorm!!!

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Unhappy

Charities?

Anyone know which charities are in bed with Phorm?

I'd expect they'd be quite sensitive to being named and shamed.

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Goodbye BT

Anyone know where I can find a list of "decent" ISPs that don't plan to Pharm my browsing habits?

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Paris Hilton

Invoice awaiting BT

I've got a nice counter on my sites so I can invoice BT for royalties if any of these infected fellows come into contact with them.

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Paris Hilton

Phorm

Please will one of the BOFH who read El Reg devise some way to screw BT. So help me, I'm on Virgin Broadband and would love to swamp Phorm with searches for donkey sex or whatever would best foul up this despicable trial.

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I wonder......

How fast the Internet could be if there wasn't all this Deep Packet Inspection going on.

Its bad enough when you pay for a service and don't get the speed advertised

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Anyone got contact details for Mr. Hanff? Also a note on BT routers

I'd appreciate them.

Now, BT routers (that white box). Just in case someone else is having problems - this router has played silly buggers just about since the day I had it, repeatedly rebooting, dropping connections and generally being an utter sod. Many, many contacts with BT support got me let's test the line again/swap the microfilters and monitor it/reboot the router; that kind of thing. Didn't help any...

... until one day while doing some networking stuff i swapped the USB connection from the router for ethernet. And it worked consistently thereafter.

So I phoned the support people again and when I asked about this I was told there were known problems with USB connections, and not to use them. Poor guy just kept apologising.

I don't understand BT's business model.

Anyway I've stuck with BT while I chased them re phorm. If I left I was concerned they'd use it as an excuse to 'lose' info on me. Now we've hit the brick wall of government/police indifference and they're tooling up to phorm us again, time to change ISP. Today. Right now in fact. I'll keep chasing on the legal side, so once again, contacts for Alex welcome, or if he's reading this I'm on <pinger666777(@t)gmail.com>

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Signed

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ispphorm/

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What about legalities?

Interesting post at the bottom of this page (#179). No replies as yet, but genuinely interesting.

Anyone any ideas?

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Phishing

Ah, the old redirect to a fake domain trick. Isn't this what phishers attempt to do? And this is legal? Looks like you'll see this in courts soon:

"But BT and Phorm do exactly the same thing, so it must be legal!"

Before anyone starts with the "consent" rejoinder, the invitation page is clearly making the most noise about the anti-phishing "feature." To my mind, that is NOT informed consent. Anything short of "We will be logging and recording the contents of every HTTP URL you visit through this ISP and, even if you opt-out, your packets will still pass through the system to be examined for the opt-out cookie. If you block the Webwise IP, you'll get bugger all service to anyone else's port 80 because we redirect everything destined to anyone's port 80 through Phorm's system and, until we detect the opt-out cookie, we remain hopeful that we can make money out of you." is less than honest.

Perhaps we should all just replace our index.* pages with "Protesting BT and Phorm's destruction of Internet privacy on Tuesday 30th September - complain to them, not me" and stay off the Internet tomorrow as a protest?

As an aside, isn't it funny that most of the things that fuck the Internet up for the sane happen in September?

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Anonymous Coward

Can that really be considered opt-in?

The page seems designed to confuse and misdirect. The 'turn on' is a nice bright green button, the decline a standard link adjacent to a 'learn more' link. Surely this doesn't meet the spirit of requiring an opt-in for a service?

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Unhappy

@Catching the bastards at it

I think dephormation.org had some kind of script you could use to detect phorm infected visitors.

@ amanfromMars. As much as I never usually understand you, let alone agree with you I sadly have to admit you may be right:

"Move On, Bobby, it is Far too Late for that to be Either a Viable or an Available Option."

I fear that whatever happens, BT (and the others) have gone too far down the Phorm road to back out now.

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Pirate

Anyone look at webwise.com? No mention of Virginmedia

I clicked through to look at webwise.net, which redirects to webwise.com. And was interested to note that there is no Virginmedia logo on that page. There is only logos from BT and TalkTalk.

Does this imply that Virgin are already getting cold feet and stepping back from this?

(As a Virginmedia user I do hope so :))

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Leaving BT

Dear chaps, how about a little practical help here. BT advisors will claim (and have done to at least 2 people I know) that this substantial alteration to their terms and conditions is not a substantial alteration, even though we all know it is. This is quite important, as it is the difference between paying up the rest of your contract with BT, or not.

Anyone have specific pointers or advice on what to say to them to get this sorted with as little hassle as possible? I will disseminate this info to everyone I know and actively encourage anyone I know still with them, to leave BT.

thanks,

Louis

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Hold on now

What happens if you have multiple laptops across your house and some of them are used by children?

Will the children be asked if they wish to join up as they don't have a cookie on their machine? Surely this is illegal?

There should be a flag on the account with user preferences, not cookie based on the client browser, BT stick it where the Sun don't shine (same goes for Carphone Whorehouse and Tiscali when they start using it).

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Advertising Standards

The "Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008" has the clause on unfair commercial practices - quote:

"information...likely to deceive the average consumer in relation to any of the matters in that paragraph, even if the information is factually correct"

...which by the look of that sample invite page, this falls right into.

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@BlueGreen

You can get hold of Alex on his website pretty easily - https://nodpi.org

I've already switched to a Zen business line - much better reliability and great support.

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Just needs a clever programmer

To create the phuck off phorm program

Basically to bombard the phishing sniffer gear with multiple web page requests completely at random in order to make the data gathered completely worthless

Thumbs down... because phorm deserve the chop

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Paris Hilton

Love to see it happen....

that they get it in the ass by the EU.... dont think it will though!

I think its time to start on the old virtual pc and fill it full of click ads and once its completely infected, see how much data gets passed back to BT, should be nice to see random websites appear and their respective 3000 ad's! I wonder how much capacity they have if everyone does this?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/paris_hilton_32.png Paris... cause if theyre going to phuck with you you might as well moan and take the money!

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el reg in bed with phorm?

say it aint so ......

using dephormation flirefox plugin (available from http://www.dephormation.org.uk - use this if you are stuck with BloodyTerrible) it says "Dephormation has found a link to a Phorm / WebWise / OIX site"

please tell me its wrong / one of those crap ads (which I'm blocking btw)

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Flame

Are they taking the piss?

'..BT chief press officer Adam Liversage confirmed that opted-out traffic will pass through the system during the trial, but said it "will not be mirrored or profiled"...'

May I refer BT, Phorm (and also the ICO as they seem to have forgotten this, useless fuckers) to the Data Protection Act 1998. Specfically:

11. (1) An individual is entitled at any time by notice in writing to a data controller to require the data controller at the end of such period as is reasonable in the circumstances to cease, or not to begin, processing for the purposes of direct marketing personal data in respect of which he is the data subject.

Note the use of this part 'cease, or not to begin, PROCESSING'

The Data Protection Act 1998 defines 'Processing' to be:

'“processing”, in relation to information or data, means obtaining, recording or holding the information or data or carrying out any operation or set of operations on the information or data'

Bearing in mind unencrypted http traffic can and often contains a person's name, address and telephone number, which also by definition is 'identifying personal information' if someone wants to opt out of Phorm/Webwise then it seems pretty clear that they're breaking the law if it still passes through their system but they promise not to peek at it.

Note to BT & Phorm in moron speak as you don't seem to understand. Just because you're not 'doing' anything with the data that passes through your system (so you say) the mere fact that it passes through and might contain identifying information means you have to adhere to the DPA and customers wishes.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: el reg in bed with phorm?

It ain't so.

See the release notes for the plug in here: http://www.dephormation.org.uk/?page=19

One of the domains that trips an alert is Phorm.com, which is where the stock exchange statement I link to in the story is hosted. Simple as that.

- Chris Williams

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Leaving BT Today

This is the final straw, I will be leaving BT today and heading over to an Entanet reseller, who provide much better service and don't monitor my communications.

I've been a customer of BT Business Broadband for just over 2 years now, initially it was good however during my contract they stealthily changed their Terms and Conditions so that my unlimited connection was no longer so unlimited. I was rate limited down to 512kb/sec, after over half an hour on the phone with them they finally checked if I had been rate limited. It turns out this operation is outsourced to a firm in Germany and is based on percentages - no hard figures. At the time, the quota to be limited down to 2mbit as a puny 20GB and 512kbit/sec at just 60GB. I gave them an earful for this and it seems they made an exception. However, I presume many others are also unknowingly in this situation. With the prevalence of digital media these days, it's very easy to consume *reasonable* amounts of data. 20GB is not what I would consider a reasonable amount of data.

Now they persist on continuing this absurd scheme. Enough is enough BT - I will not be snooped on in an insecure fashion (or any fashion for that matter) to increase your executive bonuses. Goodbye BT, I won't miss you, rest assured.

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Legalities?

I'll try that again *WITH* the link!

Interesting post at the bottom of this page (#179).

http://www.talktalkmembers.com/forums/showthread.php?s=9bb1a01d1473b8b0ed61ce8415047a95&t=740&page=18

No replies as yet, but genuinely interesting.

Anyone any ideas?

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Black Helicopters

@Alan and his dephormation firefox plugin

Alan, I think your dephormation firefox plugin is just reacting to the fact that this El'Reg story about Phorm includes information about blocking webwise.net. IMHO that firefox plugin will be confused by the "webwise.net" words within the body of the story text.

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