back to article BT abandons Phorm

BT has abandoned plans to roll out Phorm's controversial web monitoring and profiling system across its broadband network, claiming it needs to concentrate resources on network upgrades. Privacy activists have greeted the news as a victory for their campaign against the firm, which was sparked by revelations in The Register …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Virgin Media Bullshit

    The only people Phorm is good for is Virgin Media, everyone else loses out no matter how you spin it.

  2. Chronos Silver badge
    Pint

    YES!

    We'll raise a glass later to the inevitable corpse of Phorm. This is not the result I really wanted; I wanted Phorm's DPI technology to be ruled illegal, unethical and BT *forced* to drop it, but this will do as an interim solution.

    One down, two (VM and StalkStalk) yet to announce it has been a waste of time.

  3. JakeyC
    Terminator

    Great Success!

    This is obviously great news, but until they have died and ceased to exist no one can afford to become complacent over the issue.

    Terminator because Phorm=SkyNet.

  4. nichomach
    Pint

    @Chronos

    Ditto; but the mere fact that the largest provider of broadband connections in the UK has shitcanned them is enough to provoke a qualified "YEEEEEEEEES!!!" *airpunch* . Now to get on to VM. As an aside, ""We continue to focus considerable effort on faster moving overseas opportunities. In so doing we have already minimised our dependency on the deployment by any single ISP or in any particular market," ..." sounds awfully like a postmortem muscle spasm to me...

  5. Mr Nobody 1
    Pint

    @Chronos

    The EU can now happily rule it illegal without commercial pressures.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Make it illegal

    Though Phorms demise will be very welcome, we really need ISP level interest based advertising to be made illegal.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Result!

    I can't wait to see how this is spun on The "Un"official Phorm Weblog: http://www.stopphoulplay.com/

  8. bobbles31
    Grenade

    Still needs to be followed up...

    Just because BT aren't deploying it in the future doesn't mean that their historical actions are now legal. The case to prosecute directors that authorised illegal trials should still be chased down.

  9. Tim Greening-Jackson
    Grenade

    Pyrrhic victory?

    Virgin Media Bullshit #

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 6th July 2009 09:33 GMT

    "The only people Phorm is good for is Virgin Media, everyone else loses out no matter how you spin it."

    Err. Not quite. The business model proposed by Phorm offered a generous revenue share to the ISP. Which would make the difference between turning a profit and making a loss. So the result is you will continue to get crap ISP infrastructure or pay higher prices.

    And presumably Google will end up doing DPI or similar to serve you targetted ads for which you and the ISP will get f--k all.

    Way to go tin-foil hat brigade.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Hey Phorm

    Suck on this !

    See ya :)

  11. Man Outraged
    Coffee/keyboard

    Holy F*** I must be dreaming...

    I'm in the longest pseudo-realism dream I've ever had.

    I'm currently dreaming the Wacqui is no longer Home Secretary, plans for ID cards are being scaled back, APCO and UK police forces' use of innocents' data and retention of that data is coming under scrutiny and the opposition has already pledged to reverse the trend towards a surveillance/Big Brother state. Only this morning I heard Call-me-dave Cameron arguing for a refocussing in powers at Ofcom and that's just the start.

    Before I wake up from this dream I hope to see the ICO and NHTCU budgets increased tenfold, ICO being given proper powers and all the crazy intrusionistic labour ministers leave office.

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Stop

    Don't count your chickens.

    Whilst this is very good news (read VERY VERY good news) I'm not sure this is the last we'll see of this sort of technology, whether in this form, or another.

    There are too many vested interests and bloated ROI analysiis in the trough for the piggies to be able to keep their snouts out of for too long.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Rejoice but keep an eye open.

    Sweet. My BT year contract was up this month and was about to leave them. Maybe I'll give them another chance.

    As for Phorm, you just cling for grim life to the edge of the cliff.

    I will continue to stamp on your bloody fingers till you fall.

  14. Dave Bell

    motives

    Phorm would be saying much the same about opportunities elsewhere if BT was about to get a legal reaming. This might be a mitigation in any trial of past actions by BT: "We're good boys now." I wouldn't want to be the guy who moved from BT to Phorm, and doesn't have that bit of legal wiggle room.

  15. Tim Brown 1
    Big Brother

    I predict...

    I predict:

    the collapse of Phorm,

    the sale of their intellectual property to some small outfit no-one has ever heard of,

    a 'rebranding' of the technology,

    it's introduction on the quiet by all the major ISPs

  16. Alex 5
    Thumb Up

    line up a against the wall please....

    and now watch the prosecutions roll in, oh how I'm gonna enjoy this!

    anyone for coffee?

  17. david 63

    Do you think BT can just turn its back?

    If there's a contract in place the termination clause will give Phorm a cash injection to allow it to stumble on a bit longer.

    In the long term they do seem to be Phucked though.

    Cue press release from Phorm (blah blah serious impact blah blah not Phatal blow blah blah only trying to improve user experience blah blah Phuture looking goood blah blah other customers in pipeline blah blah cannot disclose names and plans blah blah) just before they disappear down up their own Phundament.

    Wonder if they've had a look at the Chinese market?

  18. King Edward I

    Shares at £3.53?

    Really? I'd have said 35.3p would be a generous pice for them!

  19. dunncha
    Megaphone

    I would still like to see some proscutions

    They're on the ropes. Don't stop until they are down and not getting back up.

    A big thank you to New Labour for NOT defending our rights. Cheers Gordon. I wonder how long it will be before Gordon announces this as a new policy for Election. I will defend your privacy from those that seek to invade it. WOT Like New Labour

  20. Andy Watt
    Thumb Up

    Excellent - but watch out. Other uses / ISPs...

    This technology is too powerful to be canned permanently. I'd echo other comments to this effect. I've been posting occasionally to the Phorm threads on El Reg, and I've consistently put my opinion forward which is that Phorm would hopefully die the death of a thousand cuts. Glad to see if come to fruition - this was one marketing tool too far.

    Seriously, have you heard the way people in advertising and branding talk? Their moral compass is permanently locked at "git" - they genuinely believe that they are forwarding the sum total of human endeavour by leading people, like sheep, for their own good, into this sort of stuff.

    This represents a victory in a war against a way of thinking which threatens to turn us all into monitored little consumers. More than that, the idea that we're only good for buying crap products undermines what human life should be about.

  21. Ben Boyle
    Go

    @Debaser

    Another chance? No! Follow through and leave the phuckers, dropping the scheme now is no excuse for past actions.

    Go... because that's what all their subscribers should do

  22. GregC
    Thumb Up

    @Tim Greening-Jackson

    "So the result is you will continue to get crap ISP infrastructure or pay higher prices."

    If I had to make the choice between that and Phorm/BT/VM etc snooping on my browsing and forcing ads on me that I neither want nor need, I'd take option one every time thanks. Happily, for now at least, my ISP performs just fine at the price I'm paying. The sooner Phorm and their like die and are declared illegal the better.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    EU...

    still needs to follow up.. They need to keep the pressure on uk.gov - this interception technology, infact any tech serving any purpose other than delivery, should be illegal without user concent.

    The trails were still illegal and a prosecution should still follow..

    Concerned about this "Webwise Discover" must investigate further...

  24. Anonymous Coward 3
    Thumb Up

    Too late!

    I am glad BT did not make this announcement a month ago. Then my BT contract ran out and I got my MAC. Last week I became a very happy O2 broadband user with twice the speed at less than half the price. I might have been overcome with apathy and stayed with BT if I had heard this news first!

  25. dunncha
    Megaphone

    @ Pyrrhic victory? #

    'And presumably Google will end up doing DPI or similar to serve you targetted ads for which you and the ISP will get f--k all.

    At least I can choose not to use Google in the same way I do now. So would most of the people here that had a choice. ....... We wanted to choose. PHORM took that choice from us

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good product?

    I really wish companies would produce a quality product which serves the customers' needs at the best possible price. I also wish people weren't retarded, that way companies wouldn't be able to mess them around with small print and breaches of privacy. Far too many retards using computers these days.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    @debaser

    Second chance? really?

    I suggest you give your reason for leaving as BT having a one night stand with Phorm.. an affair that ruined the marrage..

  28. hi_robb
    FAIL

    hahahahahaha

    haha

    I can see a Ex Phorm CEO going down the job centre very soon.

  29. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @debaser

    "My BT year contract was up this month and was about to leave them. Maybe I'll give them another chance."

    Why? They have proven that they can't be trusted. Just because they have backed off, doesn't change the past.

  30. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I heard you could make good money off Phorm shares...

    ...shorting them...

    Seriously though, although this is indeed good news, it would seem likely that the reason that BT are dropping Phorm is because they are currenlty haemmoraging cash like ther'es no tomorrow. Note that they haven't said that they won't deploy 'Webwise' at some point in the future. If you examine the statement they have actually made:

    "we don't have immediate plans to deploy Webwise today"

    You can see that their weasel-words are remarkably free from content, due to the sly use of the qualifier, 'today'.

    What would actually seem most likely is that BT are seeing their share prices drop to half of what they were a year ago, and have released a press statement in order to bolster them - which seems to be having the desired effect.

    But then, maybe I'm just being a cynic?

  31. Chronos Silver badge
    Pint

    @Tim Brown 1

    Precisely why this battle seems to have been won but the war still rages on. Complacency is the enemy right now. Tim Greening-Jackson is right (although how one would persuade an ISP to install and maintain L7 DPI kit without a profit-sharing scheme is beyond me at this juncture) with his warning that Google especially are the ones to watch. NebuAd may be dead as an entity (the London spin-off, InsightReady has sworn off DPI, but we should keep an eye on it anyway) but AudienceScience, Kindsight, Adzilla et al still seem to be alive and kicking, with many other marketing houses watching with interest. Match point will be a clear statement on EU or UK privacy and communications integrity law, and that still seems a long way off.

    The war may not be over but we can be forgiven for fist-pounds, air-punches, high fives and a little smugness right now; this is the first clear victory in the 2+ years we have been fighting this. Alex Hanff , Richard Clayton, Chris Williams and El Reg especially deserve credit for this milestone for their tireless efforts to educate people about this threat to our online rights.

  32. Chris 67

    @ debaser

    Why bother?

    Go with Be instead, they never flirted with Phorm in the first place and everything about them is just better.

  33. Eponymous Cowherd
    Pirate

    Arrrrr!

    Take a "Privacy Pirate" cutlass up yer jacksy, Mr Ertugrul!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Tidy result....

    But I very much doubt thats the last of them or their data pimping. It's hard to understand though why BT has taken all the shit for so long and not at least tried to extract a little blood from their customers/victims.

    I can't wait to see laughing boy spin this one without looking like a total prat.

  35. Michael Hawkes
    Joke

    So...

    BT is Phormless, then?

  36. CD001

    thank phuck we're in the EU

    ... looks like the angry noises coming from Europe are beginning to be heard in UK circles - focusing on more important network upgrades sounds like an excuse to me... we don't want to admit we were wrong but we want even less to get buttraped by the EU.

    Hopefully this will set a DPI precedent and all the ISPs will steer well clear.

  37. Joe K
    Pint

    WOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    All thanks to you guys. If i was darn sarrrth, i'd buy you lot pints all day.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    LOL

    #PhormFAIL

  39. Matt Smart
    Pint

    YAY!

    Fan-phucking-tastic.

    That is all.

  40. Yorkshirepudding
    Pint

    epic win

    great news as a BT customer im well chuffed to hear of its timely demise i can only hope it now continues a short but painful death

    huzzas all round

  41. Lionel Baden

    Virgin media

    I wonder if you could leave them without penalty fee's because you feel they are infringing your privacy ??

  42. g e
    Thumb Up

    At £2.95

    And falling....

    Oh well.

  43. Secretgeek
    Happy

    *Doing a small victory dance...

    ...on the freshly prepared grave of Phorm*

    I like good news on a Monday.

    Echoing a lot of other people here, we've still gotta watch out while the DPI genie is still out of the box and not restricted/killed by the law.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Oh joy!

    Seeing the share price tumble and tumble is such fun today - 475p on Friday....

    ...today, can't keep my laugh in - 290p

    Mwhahahahahahahahaha..

    Liquid lunch today.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    "the guy who moved from BT to Phorm"

    "I wouldn't want to be the guy who moved from BT to Phorm, and doesn't have that bit of legal wiggle room."

    Apparently you wouldn't want to name him either? I'm not so fussy.

    His name is Stratis Scleparis, he was Chief Technology Officer at BT Retail at the time of the denied trials, and coincidentally he is currently employed as CTO at Phorm. His future? Who knows.

    http://www.phorm.com/about/exec_scleparis.php

  46. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Big in South Korea?

    In the 1980s, popular beat combos that couldn't get arrested would claim that, rather than being hopeless no-marks with an audience in single figures, they were instead `big in Japan'. This was adopted, ironically, as the name of a Liverpool band that achieved some success and, if memory serves, spawned Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

    The reason why claiming to be `big in Japan' worked, while `big in Germany' didn't, was that Japan was a long way away, the music press was in a language no-one understood and there were few visitors in either direction.

    So, when a company claims that it doesn't need to deal with BT because it's big in South Korea...

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Yes

    Phorm bankruptcy in 3... 2... 1...

  48. MikeWW

    Dormant doesn't equal dead

    My concern is that now BT have said "we don't have immediate plans to deploy Webwise" the politicians will read it as "Phorm is dead so that's that". If they do, the EU won't press ahead with prosecuting the UK for its alleged fundamental law breaking and the UK Government can again attempt to spin their way out.

    We still need to know why the Government thought it OK for the Home Office to advise BT and Phorm in private that they could proceed in secret without an explicit opt-in from customers but then claim law enforcement for this type of technology lies with the toothless Information Commissioner's Office. Next we need to know that they can't resurrect Phorm or anything similair that monitors a user's internet usage without them agreeing to it or even knowing about it.

    Finally we need to know if any laws were actually broken and if so that those condoning it or authorising it are identified and sanctioned along with those who actually broke the law.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Is this like the EU Treaty Referendum? Over till the public looks the other way then sneak

    it in via the back door? Ooh er missus!

    The fight won't be over until the fat lady sings dies and is cremated.

    Plus I still want prosecutions too.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good riddance - Hope you never resurface again

    Now then VM, do you not want to keep me as a Broadband / Telephone / TV user or are you going to come off that f'ing fence and end this relationship with Phorm. The choice is yours as you have got only a couple of weeks.

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