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back to article BT's Phorm small print: It's all your fault

BT subscribers who are invited to take part in its new trial of Phorm's internet monitoring and advertising system will be responsible for telling anyone who uses their computer that they could be being tracked online - whether they opt in or not. In the updated Total Broadband terms and conditions for the trial, BT washes its …

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Nothing ever seems to be BT's fault

This company seem to be able to shrug off all responsibility. Their new T&C's are a licence to just print money and shrug their shoulders.

They won't accept responsibility for identifying the principal account holder before changing their contract terms and conditions, if the cat or their three year old signs them up to Webwise.

If a parent runs very strict parental control software it STILL won'ty protect their children from the Webwise browser hijack. Thousands of parents are IGNORANT of the Webwise product so can't be expected to block the cookies in advance. Do BT care? of course not.

They won't accept responsibility for the webwise opt-in/opt-out system going wrong and making it impossible to opt out again. (see their info)

They won't accept responsibility for their anti-phishing fig leaf of a service not being up to date and not working effectively. (see their info)

They won't design or implement their webwise invitation so it is legally compliant

They can't be held to account when laws get broken.

How do I get some of what they've got? I'd love to have that sort of legal and moral immunity. Well - actually I wouldn't really. It might make me like BT. And I wouldn't want that. I couldn't sleep at night.

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flood 'em with blacklist demands

...let the flood to drown them in blacklist requests begin.

And don't forget to be extremely rude while doing it ;)

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Paris Hilton

Opt Me Out

I hope El Reg has added itself to Phorm's site blacklist...

Now I just need to find someone at Google to do the same...

Paris, 'cos she hates people checking out her private info.

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Unhappy

If ever there was a time to vote with your feet

It is now. The arrogance and total disregard for customers in all of this is clear. We have the law on our side, we don't care what you customers think etc.

There was a sci-fi film whose name I can't recall but there was a line in it that sums this up perfectly!

"I'm going ahead with this but I warn you it's your responsibility"

Get on to your ISP and if they are using targeted advertising through Webwise or Phorm then ask for your MAC Code and get the hell out of there. If your tied into a contract and can afford to jump ship anyway do so and hit these people where it hurts. In their pockets!

Disgraceful that a company of BT's stature is insistent on doing this.

These organisations understand one thing - profit. That's where most pain for them will come from.

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Tim
Dead Vulture

scam/scum

Is this BT's plan to reduce network use so they don't have to throttle user's because anyone with a choice who knows anything will leave .

all I can see them having as a custard base are granny's who don't know about this interweb thing . I Suppose it save's then upgrading the network !

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Stop

So I email them...

... what is Kent going to do with my email address?

The cynic in me thinks he's about to sell it on to his spamming mates.

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Black Helicopters

Looks like ....

BT have been reading El Reg and taken action after reading comments made on previous threads.

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Stop

Worthless promise

"Customers who are invited to join the trial and decline are still subject to the new terms and conditions - it's just that BT and Phorm promise to ignore their traffic as it passes through profiling hardware."

Why should anyone take any notice of 'promises' given by this duplicitous outfit?

We won't look ...... honest Guv!

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arghhhh

Beyond Belief!! If I went to BT and Phorm and burned both of em to the ground do ya reckon that would get rid of this webwise "service"?

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Coat

Robots.txt

I see that the scummy filth are still saying that they will only observe your robots.txt file if you exclude Google/Yahoo Slurp.

How do Google and Yahoo feel about the fact that Phorm are basically saying "If you allow Google / Yahoo to scan your site to bring you traffic it means we can scrape your site to make money"? If I was Google or Yahoo I would not be happy that someone like Phorm was doing this.

I notice that Phorm don't observe any robots.txt deny for Microsoft. Does this mean that they don't consider MS a contender in the search arena or does it mean that they're in bed with Microsoft. ..... if you want to be excluded from Phorm then you have to exclude yourself from Google/Yahoo. Just what Microsoft would love to see....

Mine is the parker with the tin foil lined hood.

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

Why is it legal to pass on responsibility like that? If one is responsible for something, one should not be able to just 'wash one's hands' of that responsibility.

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Anonymous Coward

BT Retail - The boil in the BT group bottom

I used to work for BT. In those days BT may have had critics but it still commanded respect as a company who would not knowingly shaft their customers.

Sadly things change and this Phorm / Webwise mess is something those at the top of BT's chain of command should be thoroughly ashamed of.

What's that you say? The top are implicated by previous association?

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WebWise ...

.. sounds like an initiative to educate and help people use the web.

What Phorm / BT want to use it for is not Wise - it's just Greed, Greed, Greed (and Invasion of Privacy).

But I suppose being honest and calling it WebGreed&InvasionOfPrivacy doesn't trip off the tongue.

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Anonymous Coward

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg!

nonononononononooooo! they speak evil doublespeak burn them all!

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Pirate

Well done BT - you have killed phorm stone dead

just connect the peado-hysteria mob with the fact that BT can spy on your kids, and you've got a sure fire winner. Simply make the point that "phorm" (what an unfortunately sinister name they chose) will sell details onto anyone with enough money, and you'll get the same mob that managed to get the "Sarah's law" legislation picketing their headquarters.

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Stop

Email them!

The address is website-exclusion@webwise.com - I strongly suggest that all website owners email them using the strongest possible terms.

It's also worth noting that although they claim you can modify robots.txt to block them, it obeys the rules for three agents - googlebot, slurp (Yahoo) and *. In other words if you wish to appear on any search engines, they don't let you block them.

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PJH
Stop

Implicit consent.

"However, in its advice to Phorm and ISPs, the Home Office said it believed that publishing a website gave implicit consent."

Bah! to that. Time to add an explicit prohibition to websites then? A-la: https://nodpi.org/2008/10/01/terms-to-deny-bt-and-phorm-from-your-web-site/

"PHORM PROHIBITED

The contents of this site, and communications between this site and its users, are protected by database right, copyright, confidentiality and the right not to be intercepted conferred by section 1(3) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. The use of those contents and communications by Internet Service Providers or others to profile or classify users of this site for advertising or other purposes is strictly forbidden."

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So LAN wise?

So if I have a router with 3 PCs sitting on it, I opt out on PC1 (and get the opt-out cookie) does this mean PC2 and PC3 are monitored in the trial, since the cookie is only on PC1?

... and do their T&Cs mean this is my responsability?

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Stop

WTF

I cant believe BT is getting away with the sh!t. At least when they were trying to do something illegal last time they didn't do it in full public sight.

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Anonymous Coward

WTF is going on?

That means that if you don't want BT and Phorm to monitor all your web traffic, you provide consent for them to monitor your web traffic

Who actually enjoys having anything monitored ?

This is madness.

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Hmmm

Unfair contract terms act anybody ?

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Alert

So.

BT are now passing the responsibility for 'educating' and 'informing' all other users of their broadband connection of the intricacies of the "Webwise" system.

These will be the same people that BT regarded as "incapable" or "unable" to understand the technology that was being used when they carried out their earlier trials then?

That looks like they've just wiped out the 'justification' for not telling people or asking for their permission before they conducted those trials.

As per usual, they want to have their cake and eat it.

Wankers.

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N

Phuck off

"You are responsible for making sure that all other users of your service know about the BT WebWise service and how to switch it on or off."

Well switch the phucking thing off right now & phuck off to another ISP

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The good news is

I've still not recieved a screen asking me to join in the trial. The bad news is, my internet connection feels as though it has developed paraplegia, it's so slow. (compared to what I'm ued to, but it's still pretty fast)

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This isn't good enough...

BT need to make it simple and easy for people to opt-in (NOT opt-out). No way is the average user Tech-Savvy enough to disable Phorm on all of their computers or other broadband devices.

Also:

"BT subscribers who are invited to take part in its new trial of Phorm's internet monitoring and advertising system will be responsible for telling anyone who uses their computer that they could be being tracked online - whether they opt in or not."

So BT are tracking people even if they opt-out?

Oh well, BT are digging their own grave here. Same applies to other ISPs who are using Phorm, or a similar system.

And finally:

"BT told El Reg this week it is still working on a network-level opt-out, but said it may not be in place if and when Webwise is rolled out across the country."

Um, why wouldn't it? I don't see why it would be so hard to implement.

Flames because BT are going down in them.

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OK Everyone

So now we all need to email website-exclusion@webwise.com and list as many websites as you can.

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Stop

website-exclusion@webwise.com

Surely, we just need to get this option as widely publicised as possible...?

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Anonymous Coward

webwise infers it is affiliated with both google and yahoo

The below dirty trick means that you have to disable google and/or yahoo to stop phorm. (they have already declined to block my web sites and will not provide a list if IP ranges I need to block.

I am adding a dynamic robots.txt that reports correctly to google/yahoo agents but say google/yahoo should NOT scan my site to everyone else.

It appears that Phorm is faking googlebot requests and will request robots.txt before a hit if not already scanned - a rdns and fDNS check is also required to ensure the IP truly belogs to googlebot - dirty tricks indeed.

"The Webwise system observes the rules that a website sets for the Googlebot, Slurp (Yahoo! agent) and "*" (any robot) user agents. Where a website’s robots.txt file disallows any of these user agents, Webwise will not profile the relevant URL. As an example, the following robots.txt text will prevent profiling of all pages on a site:"

Safer just to block the entire BT IP range - just to be sure.

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Information for website owners...

Perhaps the owners of .uk, .com, etc. could do this:

"To request that your website not be scanned by Webwise, please email: website-exclusion{at}webwise.com."

And why can't they have their own user-agent string so we can specifically exclude them using robots.txt? Are they so paranoid that they think everyone would do that?

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Cookie cache

Sooooo. You cannot clear your cookie cache without turning Phorm on.

I hope that they have a clear procedure to re-add the anti-tracing cookie if it is deleted. And do you really trust them to ignore your traffic? How can they prove that you are not being tracked. Does the Data Protection Act cover this, so can you request all the information they keep?

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A child cannot consent

A child cannot concent to be intercepted under RIPA due to their minor-status. BT need to be able to ensure an adult has consented. The only way to do this properly is with the account-holder's password.

Also yeah, they have a website opt-out email address, but as I previously noted, they then email the domain owner to ensure to opt-out is valid, having gained the domain owner's contact details from a WHOIS on the domain.

'cept of course, lots of domains are non-trading individuals', and as such most likely don't have such information in their WHOIS.

The existance of an opt-out email address also does not absolve BT/PHORM from complying with the terms and conditions set out on a website - especially those bits that explicitly deny consent to being intercepted.

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Pirate

Ridiculous. Absolutely Ridiculous.

I especially love when you phone BT and its impossible to find a single person who has heard of Phorm.

Personally, I'd find it tempting to get an old PC that I want to trash, and see if I couldnt go on a major virus hunt on the web, in the hope that the process of 'scanning' my packets, Phorm experienced downtime. This of course would be after opting out of them scanning my stuff, as I would expect that if I opted out and then Phorm got lots of viruses as a result, then they would have no recourse to take as they would clearly have a record of me saying 'Do Not Scan My Sh*t'.

Also I cant wait for the first test case, I'm not sure that BT's terms and conditions are reasonable... and Trading Standards have this big thing about clauses in contracts needing to be reasonable. If its not reasonable, then it doesnt apply, whether or not you signed the contract.... Hooray for the few, limited, occaisionally useful consumer protection laws!

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Per

Flood them

Let's flood them with website exclusion requests.

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glad i didtched bt

I am glad I ditched BT when I did.

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Stop

Don't contact them for exclusion.

Why should we email BT/Phorm to have websites excluded? It is their responsibility to get consent from all parties involved in this parasite infested scheme.

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Another BT Total Broadband T&C change

BT have also changed the conditions under which you can terminate the service if contract terms are changed. This makes it more difficult if they bring in more wonderful Phorm-like spyware in the future:

Previous:

11. If you end your agreement for the service during the relevant minimum

period you will have to pay an charge by way of compensation to us, for

ending it early unless paragraphs 9 or 10 of these service terms apply or

you are ending your agreement because of a change made which is to your

material disadvantage. You will find details of these charges in the price

terms.

New:

11. If you end your agreement for the service during the relevant minimum

period you will have to pay a charge, by way of compensation to us, for

ending it early unless paragraphs 9 or 10 of these service terms apply or

you are ending your agreement because of a change made which is to your

significant disadvantage. You will find details of these charges in the

price terms.

Tell 'em to phuck off, you know it makes sense!

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Keep BT and Phorm Off Your Web Site

The muppets at BT need to learn the hard way; "content is king".

If you don't own the content, if you can't provide access to content, you are nothing.

Get blocking scripts and deny directives from here;

https://www.dephormation.org.uk/index.php?page=7

https://www.dephormation.org.uk/index.php?page=39

Do not participate in BT's list washing scam to get your sites excluded from Phorming. The are required to obtain a licence to exploit your content *in advance*.

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Go

@ Per

<quote>Let's flood them with website exclusion requests.<\quote>

Screw that...

Let's flood them with Subject Access Requests under the Data Protection Act. As for copies of anything they have processed that is identifiable back to you... Remember to only make the £10 payment after they've asked for it - not up front...

First of all I would be genuinely interested to see what information they hold on me, and secondly, the unfortunate consequence of their being buried in administration is, well, unfortunate...

Muppetman.

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Private Eye again

Good to see that Private Eye has included a piece on BT/Phorm for the second issue running. I'm sure the curse of (Lord) Gnome is poised to come crashing down on BT!

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Pirate

Little Bobby Tables?

I wonder how good Phorm are with input validation?

http://www.bt.com/phorm/'); DROP TABLE url;--

xkcd FTW http://xkcd.com/327/

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Anonymous Coward

@So LAN wise

"So LAN wise?

By Richard Atkins Posted Friday 3rd October 2008 10:46 GMT

So if I have a router with 3 PCs sitting on it, I opt out on PC1 (and get the opt-out cookie) does this mean PC2 and PC3 are monitored in the trial, since the cookie is only on PC1?

... and do their T&Cs mean this is my responsability?"

Every computer on your local network needs to be opted out.

If you have different user accounts on a computer, each one needs to be opted out.

For example, you have 3 computers and 3 people who use each of the computers and they have their own logins on each of these machines, you have to opt out 9 times.

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Stop

beware the blacklist email address

there are numerous webmasters noting that they get read reciepts from upto 8 phorm.com email addresses when they send in a request to black list a site

then they also get a number of hits on the website including ones from russia

it is as though they are pre-profiling the site before excluding it, so they can still categorise visitors based on historical data

beware

peter

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Black Helicopters

Here's a thought

If the government need a legal reason to tap your phone.......

How is monitoring your Internet (Via Phone line) any different?????

I am just shocked that they can get away with it...

Jason

(A Pi$$ed off BT Customer)

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Anonymous Coward

Other Broadband Services

This is a great marketing opportunity for other broadband services.

They should start advertising that their service will not spy on your web browsing activities for profit unlike BT.

Now only if they could put that commerical in during prime time TV to get the majority of non-techies.

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Pirate

So do I take it

That by crossing the road, you consent to being run down by my car, and anyone crossing the road with you agrees as you should explain the risk of crossing with you?

what a load of shite, I dont have BT but use their phone service for sky broadband....guess the post office will get another phone and broadband customer as Virgin still havent officially said it wont use phorm

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Pirate

Whisky Tango Foxtrot

After all this crap there are still people with BT?!?!?!

Wow!!!! Talk about sticking with the hand that beats you.

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NT

@ robert

I, too, ditched BT as my ISP *purely* because of their arrogant, underhand and dismissive attitude over WebWise. They didn't deign to answer the reasonable questions I sent to them - they just brushed me off with a load of boilerplate marketing bullshit that didn't even address the questions I'd asked. Just a puff-piece for Phorm.

It'd be naive of me to imagine, though, that my departure to another ISP - even after the number of years I'd been with them - caused BT any trouble at all. We are, after all, just numbers - and let's not kid ourselves: nobody who's not either working in IT or generally prone to paranoia knows the first thing about Phorm anyway. BT can and will do exactly as they please on this, because they're huge, they evidently have enough money to buy the law (gods forbid the UK government should do anything to inconvenience a large corporation), and because most of their customers are totally oblivious to the whole thing.

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Stop

Copyright content

One thing I dont understand about the legality of this.

I have a web site. It includes specific adverts I have agreed as being suitable and prt of the web site page. This page is my material, and copyright - and that copyright includes the nature and contents of any adverts on it - after all, I wouldnt want inappropriate adverts..

Phorm/BT now intercepts this, and alters the adverts. But this is copyright material they are changing, and they have no authority to do so - the viewer cant give this authority, only I can. Indeed, the page will still show it being copyright by me, even though it has been altered.

Now surely this is illegal, AND allows every website so modified to sue Phorm/BT?

Class action, anyone?

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Stop

Don't use the exclusion email address you are playing into their hands

The law states that the system has to be Opt In and the exclusion email address is Opt Out. Do NOT use the email address. Add the terms and conditions which have been drafted by Nicholas Bohm and can be found on https://nodpi.org

The Home Office stated that there MIGHT be a case of implied consent ONLY IF there are not explicit terms denying consent. By adding the terms you are complying with the Home Office's advice (even though they state that their advice is not legal advice and just an opinion.)

Alexander Hanff

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Anonymous Coward

Show us the way

EL Reg, take the lead, please put the terms to deny the parasitic scumware on your web site.

https://nodpi.org/2008/10/01/terms-to-deny-bt-and-phorm-from-your-web-site/

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