British Telecoms Bad Phorm

March 17, 2008

BT has admitted that it secretly used customer data to test Phorm’s advertising targeting technology last summer, and that they covered it up when approached on the subject.

In a statement, BT said: “We conducted a very small scale technical test of a prototype advertising platform on one exchange in June 2007. The test was specifically conducted to evaluate the functional and technical performance of the platform.

“Absolutely no personally identifiable information was processed, stored or disclosed during this trial. As with all service providers, it is important for BT to ensure that, before any potential new technologies are employed, they are robust and fit for purpose.” – read: Blah Blah Blah, inane drivel….

It is likely many people will look to take legal action.

“…absolutely no personally identifiable information was processed, stored or disclosed” meaning all information was processed, stored or disclosed but the personal bits were filtered out – although presumably in retrospect the two sets of information are help in different places and CAN be reunited. Clearly unlawful.

Various people have already filed complaints with Information Commissioner’s Office and are consulting on how to proceed through the courts with other BT subscribers who believe their connection was subject to illegal Phorm tests.

BT claim that only ONE exchange was involved. Going on the accuracy and transparency of information supplied in the past on this matter I see no reason anyone should believe this.

BT are still banging on about how it is compliant with DPA and various other legalities. Legality is however not the only issue here. I mean murdering nigh on a million Iraqis is apparently `legal` yet growing or selling cannabis will get you locked up. Just because something is Legal does NOT make it OK or FAIR or ACCEPTABLE to MOST PEOPLE – this is increasingly the case in society.   

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has spoken out against ISP ad targeting. He summed up public opposition to the system: “It’s [web traffic] mine – you can’t have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I’m getting in return.”

The Downing Street petition against Phorm has now amassed almost 5,000 signatures.

Carphone Warehouse has said it will ensure that its subscribers are opted out of Phorm and Webwise by default. BT and Virgin Media have made no such promise – time to give them the fuck off, methinks.


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