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.

  51. N2 Silver badge

    Now phuck off and die Phorm

    & good to see some common sense from BT

  52. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    I don't trust this to kill Phorm.

    I'm happy to see Phorm knocked down, but its not dead until DPI is made totally illegal. We cannot give them an inch. A Narcissistic company like Phorm and others like them, have no empathy. They will do whatever it takes them to achieve their goal, no matter what anyone else says unless its made totally illegal. (Even then some cannot be trusted to spy illegally as spyware shows). DPI has got to be made totally illegal.

    Spying on communications for the profit of the spies is a blatant violation of everyone. Morally they are totally violating privacy but its more than this. No business could allow other businesses to conduct such detailed automated industrial espionage and such espionage cannot be allowed against individuals as much as against businesses. They are trying to work out what everyone else is doing for their own profit. Its one thing to fill out one survey, its totally different to be spied on continuously.

    "BT's announcement comes a day before MPs and peers of the All Party Parliamentary Communications Group are due to begin an investigation of internet privacy."

    Thats very interesting timing. So BT are stepping back from Phorm while Phorm are in the spot light. Wait and see what happens to Phorm then decide what they want to do. I still don't trust BT so they will never get me using their ISP and I'll warn everyone I know away from the underhanded greedy control freaks at BT. They should never had worked with Phorm.

    We still need encryption through all ISPs now they have proven they cannot be trusted. The way the ISPs are behaving is as if the Post Office was opening every letter, then writing down anything they find, and then selling what they find. If the Post Office done this, there would be a huge public outcry. But the general public doesn't understand technology as much, so its harder to generate such a huge angry public outcry at Phorm, but its only time before everyone realizes the depths some are planning to spy on everyone. If the UK MPs still refuse to totally kill DPI, then its getting time some more UK MPs were thrown out their jobs for failing to protect us from such blatant exploitation. If the current MPs can't protect us, then its time to find ones that can and I don't care which party they are thrown out of. None of them can be allowed to back DPI.

    If we go after the MPs jobs, with the general public realizing the depth of spying being planned, then all DPI companies will be wiped out forever. I don't trust this to kill Phorm or DPI. We cannot give them an inch. DPI must be made totally illegal and totally killed off, no compromise. MPs need to be sent a very clear message. I.e.

    MPs protect us or loose your jobs.

  53. 2FishInATank
    FAIL

    Hmmm,

    Am I alone in thinking that we need a little extra PH with our still-new-and-shiny Fail icon?

    And not in a Paris Hilton way either,

    Although.....

  54. alphaxion

    ummm

    When did Behavioural Tracking Advertising get rebranded to "Interest Based Advertising"? anyone?

    This needs following up and ensuring that use of DPI does not go beyond purposes of security and network integrity.

    As soon as private data is being captured and analysed for the purpose of building a profile of activity to be used against them for purposes either oppression in their right to freedoms/privacy or commercial profit with no tangiable benefit to those who are being snooped upon and with no consent from them, it needs to be illegal.

    Also, the state is to be banned from the use or coersion of use in non-state corporate entities of such technology (DPI or any future technology that accomplishes the same end result) for anything other than ensuring the security of its own networks from outside intrusion/interference. The term "own networks" is restricted to government IT infrastructure and does not extend to the networks run by other people/corporate entities within its bountry of sovereignty.

    I should go into law writing, I seem to be better at it than our current set of law imagining wankers.

  55. DrXym Silver badge
    FAIL

    Good riddance

    I don't think I would object to Phorm if BT or whoever said - "use Phorm and we cut your ADSL bill in half". But to slide it into your service without giving anything in return, or even to threaten a substandard service through alternate routers if you don't use it is simply reprehrensible. At the end of the day it is a gross intrusion of privacy and BT thought people would just bend over for it. Screw them. Clearly the penny dropped in the end but it doesn't forgive them for the way they trying it on in the first place.

  56. N2 Silver badge

    @ Shares at £3.53?

    Lets hope thats not for long,

    Hopefully by the end of the day they will be worthless trash

  57. FoolD
    Pint

    A battle is won

    @Chronos

    This seems very much like a tactical move - avoiding forcing the issue on legality by withdrawing, whilst keeping your options open. Phorm and it's like is not defeated until everyone accepts that *it is already* illegal. Procecutions must be brought unto anyone performing unwarranted DPI on traffic and processing the results for profit.

    @Tim Greening-Jackson

    Google already 'DPI' my traffic when I use their sites - they must process them in order to respond to my search/send my email and as such have implicit approval. If it were unavoidable for my packets to go through google servers whilst using the internet for day-to-day tasks (like it is with an ISP) then there would be cause for concern.

    ISPs need to be reminded that they don't own the TCP/IP traffic - they mearly route it.

  58. alistair millington
    Pint

    Network upgrades my A**e

    Here is to public will and pressure where our limp wristed govenment failed.

    Or was it the EU pressure?

    ...Now lets start on the ID cards and Database.

  59. Mike Flugennock
    Pint

    "...needs to concentrate resources on network upgrades..."

    Welll-llll... if that's their story and they're sticking to it, fine.

    Still, a rare occurrence: a simultaneous epic FAIL and epic WIN.

    Another pint? Yeah, sure.

    Slurrrrrp. (uuhhrrp!) Ahhh.

  60. Kevin Johnston

    Network upgrade?

    Ummm....that wouldn't be BT Code for adding lots of racks for DPI usage would it? The way Phorm's prce is going BT could pick up the technology for the price of a Director's lunch soon and no nasty Phorm connection to spoil the party.

    Hope I'm wrong......I really REALLY hope I'm wrong

  61. Waggers
    Welcome

    BT's reputation...

    ...will be forever tarnished by the fact they even *considered* implementing Phorm. They've made a good decision today but should never have let it get this far.

  62. Justin Clements

    @ Tim Greening-Jackson

    People do not want their traffic snooped by anyone whilst they are browsing. They don't want targeted ads, they don't want a 3rd party building a profile, they simply do not want to be monitored any more than they are now.

    Its not about costs either, or ISPs making money, or ISPs subsidizing their connections using that cash - the end user wants a degree of privacy. Simply as that.

  63. Wade Burchette Silver badge
    Flame

    Just wait until the heat's off

    Right now, public outcry is great. So Phorm and NebuAd are axed and fade into the night. And then, because of the short term memory the majority of people suffer with today these companies will rise from the dead. The ISP's, having learned their lesson, will be able to covertly roll out Phorm the second and NebuAd the second (which, if you recall from El Reg, has relocated to the UK under the name Insight Ready).

    This will happen. This is not a victory, this is a delay. It may be one year, or two or three or more, but it will happen again. Money is more powerful than you can imagine. Scruples mean nothing when it comes to make a lot of money.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vive l'europe!

    Funny how everyone here seems to be happy that the EU is prosecuting the UK government. Did you remember that when you gave your vote to the UKIP last month?

  65. hi_robb
    Go

    And now the FTSE news

    "And now the Financial news;

    Phorm stock is sliding dramatically and is currently 192p, that's a 40% drop.

    hahahaha, die you turd die.

    End of news"

  66. Alpha Tony
    FAIL

    @Tim Greening-Jackson

    '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.'

    I'm no great expert on this type of tech Tim, but as I understand things it would be impossible for Google to implement the sort of system you suggest- It could only be done with the collusion of your ISP.

    Google could (and do) monitor anything that goes through their servers, but that is entirely different - You choose to go to Google and enter information or to use their free webmail etc in the understanding that this is how they make their money and you 'opt in' to their ad service by doing so.

    DPI employed by an ISP is entirely different and monitors everything passing through your internet connection. You have no way to avoid it and if your ISP is operating such a system it would not be in their interests to make it on an 'opt in' basis, as no-one in their right mind would do so.

    Your argument about the ISPs needing to do something like this to support their (frankly dumb) business model is about as sensible as saying that your bank should be allowed to sell your credit card details to Russian gangsters as otherwise they will have to increase their charges.

    In both cases I would rather be charged more and retain control of my own confidential information, thankyou very much.

  67. Winkypop Silver badge
    Pirate

    I'm not dead yet.....!

    Oh yes you are [WHACK] !!!

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Yoda Says

    Rest on your laurels you must not.

    Watch key players you must do.

    Defences you must still build.

    Technology mutate it shall.

    Look west you must.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Confused

    Confused here, if its against the law to do DPI (according to the document

    http://www.privacyappg.org.uk/Documents/appg_IMP_briefing.pdf)

    <quote>

    Any form of DPI is an interception under s1 RIPA and thus illegal

    unless covered by the appropriate warrant.

    </quote>

    How come ISP's can do it, or are they an exception, if so what condition, identifying traffic types only?

    Does RIPA actually contain an optin clause as intimated by the HO?

    <quote>

    In an e-mail dated August 2007, an unnamed Home Office official wrote to Phorm's legal representative and said: "My personal view accords with yours, that even if it is "interception", which I am doubtful of, it is lawfully authorised under section 3 by virtue of the user's consent obtained in signing up to the ISPs terms and conditions."

    </quote>

    Any learned person care to comment?

    Will RIPA be changed to suit?

  70. Al 14
    Happy

    YES.....

    Phorm.....please......die....... now!

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what's worrying

    is that there are actually people who like Phorm who think it's the best invention ever for advertising :|

    some peopel are just too misguided...

  72. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Re: Pyrrhic victory?

    Assuming "Tim Greening-Jackson" is the poster's real name then Belgium had better go on full Phorm Watch Alert.

  73. Neil Greatorex
    Thumb Up

    @ Alpha Tony

    Very succinctly put.

  74. N2 Silver badge

    Die Phorm

    This is the sole occasion where being a member of the EU has its benefits (I never thought Id find one, but this must be it), as the EU is going to prosecute the UK for failure to comply with EU law regarding privacy.

    Lets hope they hang 'em high!

  75. John 76
    Megaphone

    Well done El Reg

    Great jounalism by the Reg contributed to this result. Keep up the good work.

  76. Alexander Hanff 1
    Thumb Up

    Still work to do

    Obviously today's news is incredibly positive and I have already expressed my gratitude to El Reg personally for their work on this over the past 18 months. Today is a day for celebration but tomorrow we get back to work and phase 2 of the APComms Inquiry on communications continues.

    We can't sit back and just forget everything that has been achieved over the past 18 months, we need to keep the pressure up and make sure that this never happens again - also there is still the question of holding BT and Phorm to task for their illegal covert trials of DPI in 2006/2007.

    Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone who has helped in this fight. To the overwhelming number of people who wrote to MPs and the EU Commission, to Baroness Sue Miller and her staff, to the Earl of Northesk, to Commissioner Vivian Redding and her staff at the EU Commission and last but certainly not least to all the NoDPI and BadPhorm campaigners who have worked and supported the work of others over the past 18 months.

    It has been a truly overwhelming day and tomorrow it all starts again. Anyone who is at APComms tomorrow, I will see you there.

  77. Mike Richards

    Huh?

    From the BT Spokesdroid: 'we don't have immediate plans to deploy Webwise today.'

    Clearly they're not excluding the devious possibility of having long-term plans to deploy Webwise today.

    Oh well, can't cry. Anything that's bad for the likes of Patricia Hewitt and Norman Lamont has to be good for us.

  78. Tim Greening-Jackson

    @Alpha Tony

    "I'm no great expert on this type of tech Tim, but as I understand things it would be impossible for Google to implement the sort of system you suggest- It could only be done with the collusion of your ISP."

    Indeed - I perhaps should have chosen my words more carefully. The fact of the matter is that companies like Google will exploit - sorry "pimp" - your data in a far more intrusive manner than Phorm ever suggested, albeit in exchange for compelling applications.

    Due to the ongoing broadband price-war in the UK most small ISPs can't make money. Particularly when our spineless advertising regulations allow everyone to offer the same, meaningless "upto xx Mbps" to describe their access. Had Phorm taken off then it could possibly have made the difference between profit for some ISPs and slowed down the relentless round of consolidation which is going on in the industry.

    When the only UK ISPs left are BT, Carphone, Sky and Virgin is anybody genuinely naive enough to believe that they won't collectively attempt to implement a Phorm-type technology?

  79. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Black Helicopters

    ODPhO

    JakeyC is the only one of the early posters to get this right (OK, I didn't read all the comments), this could be a ploy to take EU heat off the phuckers, and even if phorm were to die, who is to say that there will not be a buy-out of bankrupt phorm by a management shell company so that they come back with a different name. Handy way of ditch all that debt.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Pyrrhic victory

    Tim Greening-Jackson has his own agenda, having been until recently, Talk-talk's Phorm lacky.

    To reply to him directly, just because your former employer and the other ISPs have a flawed business plan doesn't justify them spying on their subscribers. If they want to retain their status and immunity as a mere conduit then they should just act as one.

    The repeat what others have said.... Phuck off Phorm and the sooner the better.

    PS. You too 118800.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tim Greening-Jackson

    All that means is we will have to keep up the pressure to retain the unlawful status of DPI.

    Just because the big boys want to do it does not make it acceptable. As for there only being four ISPs, there are plenty of small ones that aren't trying to compete on price but on service and integrity.

    You might be so squeaky-clean that you're happy for your surfing habits to be public knowledge but even if the only site showing in my history is El-Reg, I still don't want anyone prying into it, especially that spyware peddling slimeball K*nt Ertugral

  82. frymaster

    @Lionel Baden

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

    If and when it ever got introduced then yes, it would be enough of a change to your service that you'd be able to cancel before any minimum contract period was up

    .

  83. Tim Greening-Jackson

    Phorm's lacky (sic)

    If you're going to engage in ad hominem attacks at least learn to spell, and possibly have the courtesy/balls not to post anonymously.

    I worked on the Phorm project for a few months before leaving CPW over two years ago, so I was neither their "lackey", nor is it recently. I was actually the first one to argue for it to be opt-in not opt-out and also that the opt-out should be network based.

    But it does mean that I at least have the benefit of being informed on the subject of both ISP business models and the Phorm technology. Unlike much of the hysterical conjecture posted here.

    To reiterate I have nothing to do with either CPW or Phorm, and have not done for over two years.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: And now the FTSE news

    >Phorm stock is sliding dramatically and is currently 192p, that's a 40% drop.

    It's not that good, I think you'll find the price is 282p with 192p being the equivalent of the 40% days drop.

  85. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    Coat

    @AC 13:36

    "what's worrying #

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 6th July 2009 13:36 GMT

    is that there are actually people who like Phorm who think it's the best invention ever for advertising :|

    some peopel are just too misguided...

    "

    Those would be advertising people, who barely qualify as members of the Human Race.

    I say Golgafrincham "B" Arks for the lot of 'em!

    Mine's the one with a copy of the Guide, a towel & a sub-etha electronic thumb in the pockets.

  86. Stephen Gray
    Thumb Down

    @ TGJ

    "Particularly when our spineless advertising regulations allow everyone to offer the same, meaningless "upto xx Mbps" to describe their access"

    How else do we describe it? It's dependent on the quality of the copper on the local loop, quality of the internal wiring at the end user, amount of CPE the end user has connected. We as an ISP are not responsible for Openreach copper and no matter how much you pimp data you aint gonna have enough money install fibre to the door so since every single ISP except for NTL/Virgin uses Openreach copper please advise how we rate our equipment?

  87. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    @Tim Greening-Jackson

    "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."

    No. We have crap infrastructure for several reasons. Might I suggest the fact BT *refuse* to split their telephone service from the pure hardware infrastructure aspects of the home phone lines which deliver most domestic BB *might* have something to do with it?

    Or that when given a toss up between re-investing in their infrastructure and identifying other ways to raise revenue *or* bunging the CEO and his cronies a nice fat "performance" bonus (where "performance" means policies which actually lost customers and revenue while raising fixed costs at the same time).

    Hint. Customers don't want spam. They don't want viruses. They want this crap taken care of but the issue is the price and the trust. How many customers have *that* level of trust in their ISP? How many ISP's deserve it?

    Figuring out ways to raise additional revenues in a commeditsed market while delivering rising performance is *hard*. Which is why managers who *can* do it should be amply rewarded. Behavioral advertising is some of the worst flabby, me-too, follow-the-heard management thinking I can think of. These guys deserve one of my size 9's wedged sideways for a bit while they contemplate the size of their FAIL.

  88. The Metal Cod
    Megaphone

    Those who are desperate...

    Will justify anything they think they can get away with if they think it will make them money. Phorm have yet to provide a legal opinion backing their technology. BT, Virgin Media and Talk Talk saw the pound notes, rubbed their hands with glee and thought they would get away with spying on their customers.

    The backlash from informed customers and techies has shown them otherwise. The EU legal action is ongoing and I for one will be writing to Vivian Reding to seek her assurance that this announcement will not take any heat off BT. The law is the law and should be enforced equally to companies and corporations as much as people.

    BT, Virgin Media and Talk Talk have worthless reputations in my eyes for associating with Phorm in the first place. BT haven't completely disassociated themselves from Phorm. Neil Berkett's backside (or that of whoever is sat on the fence at Virgin Media) must be very sore thanks to all that fence sitting. Charles Dunstone has said Phorm will be opt-in only (as EU law says these schemes should be) but that his company associates with Phorm shows a distaste for his customers.

    Severn Trent Water doesn't watch my water usage and tell me not to throw water balloons at people, turn the hose on the cat or wash more often. My ISP shouldn't whore my internet usage stats out and tell me to stop reading cricket scorecards, commenting on how useless Ed Balls is or reading El Reg and buy a particular make of cricket kit, get an operation to improve my ball size and performance and how to avoid getting onto a blacklist register.

    An ISP should be a conduit. Nothing more.

  89. 7mark7

    Ahh ...

    "I worked on the Phorm project for a few months before leaving CPW over two years ago..."

    What a surprise.

    If ISP's are not making enough money, they should put their prices up. Simple.

    They have spent the last few years 'grabbing' customers at any cost in the expectation that they will be able to fleece them later. What they tried here is taking the piss and you know it.

  90. binkypanda

    what?

    BT has better things to be prioritised about? Nothing about bad PR and the revenue share eh? Nah me too cynical..

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    call me cynical but ...

    1 - "no plans to deploy today" sometimes can mean "it is already deployed"

    2 - phorm in BT's hands was wonderful as it probably didn't know what to do with it, gathered data like a magpie and hoarded it waiting for some "free" insight about what to do as there was no budget allocation to do anything with it anyway

  92. SilverWave
    Happy

    Die Phorm DIE! :)

    Heh - Its been a good day. You can just bet that Phorm are just _so_ happy that BT has dumped them, yeah sure, your whole business plan just when south and you just love it!

    The Reg's coverage, the Blogs, the Petition, the Letter writing to your MP's and the EU Commissions enforcement all paid off.

    Yes BT spouts the usual self-serving face-saving rot... but we know the truth.

    We *Forced* BT to climbdown...

    BT *Caved In*... sweet!

    WHOOT!

    Hopefully the UK government will be forced, kicking and screaming, to actually enforce the already existing privacy and interception laws without fear or favour.

    We also need to take a long hard look at BT an its monopoly, I think they need spliting up as they have WAY to much power. Pride comes before a fall etc..

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    "no plans to deploy [...] today"

    Can, as others have pointed out, merely mean that they either may deploy "it" tomorrow, or may have deployed it already.

    Besides, is Phorm and BT spying on us any worse than the government doing so? We know DVLA already pimp our data, and how many times have CDs/DVDs/laptops etc disappeared from civil service possession?

  94. Secretgeek
    Happy

    Phorm share price update.

    From a share price of 480 to 280 in the space of a day!

    Har har de har har har de har de har.... ad infinitum

  95. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    Phorm and the Government are playing an extremely dangerous game...

    @Tim Greening-Jackson and everyone at Phorm

    Rarely have I seen such a bunch of arrogant, self serving, self righteous people as yourselves. Your total lack of empathy towards everyone, in your rampant greedy rush to exploit the privacy of the entire UK is beyond contemptible. But like all good narcissistics, you totally fail to see your own actions can be wrong and so you wrongly assume everyone against you must therefore be wrong. The creation of Phorm shows just such a totally twisted self serving mindset.

    Phorm is a truly shocking display of greed at the expense of everyone else, with utter contempt for personal freedom and privacy. There is no freedom in a world where a minority choose to spy 247 on everyone else, but then you all at Phorm know this only too well. Its why you set-up Phorm to exploit everyone for your own financial gain, plus you also get the government ignorance of technology and their greed for information on your side.

    Its not misinformation we are listening to about Phorm. There are over 15 million programmers in the world. All programmers know spying technology when they see it. We are not technologically ignorant as you wish to make us out to be, in your attempts to belittle our opinions. Your opt out methodology is as cynically meaningless as your claims that you care about peoples privacy. Simply put we don't trust you and phorm people have shown countless times how driven they are by rampant self serving narcissism, so no one in their right mind would trust Phorm.

    The continuous profiling capabilities of Phorm combined with seeking to gain the goal of using it over the entire UK population, is one of the biggest moves towards a Big Brother police state in the history of the human race, yet that police state is going to be managed by a bunch of self serving advertisers with a continuous display of so little empathy towards everyone. Well even political views need advertising and so its no wonder you have the home office control freaks on your side, as they can see many advantages in adopting new technology such as yours.

    Phorm have the same story as some of the worst self righteous, self serving, MPs. The call that we must use new technology when it becomes available. Phorm and MPs need to learn that just because we now have ever more technology to abuse peoples privacy, that doesn't mean that's the right thing to keep on doing ever more. For example, just because we have the technology to knock down everyone's door, drag the people out of the house and strip search them in the road, that doesn't mean that's what everyone wants them to do. Same with Phorm, its going to far. Enough is enough and Phorm is going way to far.

    If this government wishes to stir up a real storm of public anger against itself, then by allowing Phorm style technology the backlash is going to end up taking down any government that wishes to back Phorm. Remember the people in power are very much a small minority of the population and while the government think they run it all, if the general population decides to stand up and say no more, every government has to listen. Phorm is treading on extremely dangerous ground and the whole scam is likely to explode in your faces and in the government's face, as people get ever more angry at the ever greater controls and spying being force onto them. This self serving, self righteous greed at the expense of others needs to stop, because the more it continues and gets even worse, the more pressure it builds against such behaviour.

  96. Chronos Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Two becomes one...

    Looks like the Craphone Whorehouse, AKA TalkTalk, have lost interest too. I imagine the conversation went something like "Holy crap, we could get prosecuted without the 'BT do it as well' defence!"

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article6652692.ece

    Of the major providers, this leaves Virgin Media standing on their own looking like a complete and total tunch of bossers.

  97. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    @Tim Greening-Jackson

    Tim,

    You claim you are "informed" on ISP business models, yet also claim you wanted a full, network based, opt-in to Phorm. Surely you must understand that that the opt-in model was never viable. The Webwise business model relies on people not bothering to turn it off. Relying on them *wanting* to turn it on was always a non-starter (which is why Phorm squirmed every which way to keep their opt-out model intact).

    You also claim you are "informed" on Phorm's "technology", yet in your earlier post, where you claim "Google will end up doing DPI", you demonstrate you have very little grasp of it at all. The only way Google can "do DPI" is to install equipment at ISPs in the same way as Phorm. If they do that the backlash will be exactly the same as that experienced by Phorm.

    You complain about "tin foil hats" and "hysterical conjecture", but why didn't any of your "product development" colleagues predict the public reaction to Phorm? A major failing, IMHO, as it was *entirely* predictable.

    Oh, nice nun outfit, BTW.

  98. Iain 4

    Virgin will jump soon.

    The advent of both BT and Carphone Warehouse pulling out means running away from Virgin Media if they introduce Phorm very simple indeed. So I fully expect them to drop the shitty stick Real Soon Now as well.

  99. L 4
    FAIL

    ADVERTS???yes please ON MY EYES

    Who asked me if I wanted these adverts in the first place. I hate advertising. I know if I want something, i have the nous to find it on my own. I don't need Barry Scott telling me about Cilit Bang and how it'll clean some ghastly looking dysentery spattered toilet. I don't want any of it, any move to increase advertising annoys me.

    I watch iplayer and DVD's, generally experiencing no adverts of any kind.

    My firefox has adblock and all manner of ways to avoid the shouty bright colour signs informing me of any old pish they sell.

    AND FUCK OFF FLASH ADS, you're the fucking worst. Expanding over the stuff I actually want to see, shoving hand and fist down my throat, clutching spam and marketing spiel about the latest absorbency of tampax, showing in painstaking graphic detail how it'll absorb all manner of blue liquids. Keeping me fresh and ready to tackle my already astonishingly difficult day in the office typing and looking pretty (Yes i hate the sexism employed in adverts - McCoys 'Man Crisps' makes me so angry you can actually sear beef on my enraged jowls and I'm their 'target demographic')

    You give marketing execs any more power and I swear we'll all be talking in taglines(because we're too stupid to work out what it is - we need convenient lexical-diarrhea to encapsulate the subtle nuance of this bar of soap, or bottle of water, or film - g.i. joe has TWO!) and brand-names, trying to remember what an actual conversation used to be like.

    aaargh, run out of steam and must return to work

    Minority Report style eye-scans to tailor the talking/moving advertisements around the city = hell.

    And Phorm is/was the first step.

  100. N2 Silver badge

    Phorm needs treating like nuclear waste

    Handled with extreme care & buried for a long, long time

  101. Boris Winkle
    FAIL

    Huzzah!!!!!!

    /does a little dance

  102. Grease Monkey

    Does any form of advertising really work?

    I don't get it, I really don't. If I want to buy something I do research then go looking for somebody who I like the look of to sell it to me. I don't click on adverts and I steer well clear of Google. So who are the idiots who click on web ads? Who actually watches TV ads or reads print ads?

    So Phuck Phorm. How do people make money from advertising?

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