Blog Post

BT’s Phorm Trial Starting Tomorrow

A month or two after it was due to commence, BT’s (NYSE: BT) trial of the controversial on-net behavioural ad targeter Phorm will finally start Tuesday morning. Earlier this month, Phorm conceded prepping the trial had “taken longer than originally anticipated”, but this morning it told the market its service will be offered to BT broadband subscribers as “BT Webwise” “over a number of weeks”…

“Following successful completion of this trial and an appropriate period of analysis and planning, it is currently expected that Phorm’s platform will be rolled out across BT’s network.” Trials with Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) are in the pipeline and the company says it’s in talks with other ISPs. The trial can’t come quick enough – without any customer base, losses tripled to $32.8 million in 2007 and Phorm raised £32 million through issuing new equity.

Phorm works by analysing every website and categorising visits in a client-side cookie, which is then interrogated by partner publishers to serve up relevant ads based on browsing history. The UK government ruled Phorm legal this month and police have abandoned their investigations; still, The Register bangs the drum.

2 Responses to “BT’s Phorm Trial Starting Tomorrow”

  1. Just thought you'd have checked your facts.

    the UK government has NOT confirmed the scheme is legal, but it is still sitting on the fence.

    The European goverment is STILL waiting for a response to their own questions to the UK Parliament.

    There is renewed interest from the Crown Prosecution Service, neatly bypassing the police.

    It’s funny you know, but of all the people I know with enough technical to actually understand the inner workings of Phorm and Webwise, there isn’t one who is anywhere near enthusiastic about this.

    The only ones who do seem to be happy are those who are content with the marketing technospeak issued by with the PR and which even I can pick large holes in.

    Just remember: Deep Packet Inspection lays bare all your data.

    All of it.

    We have promises that stuff we don’t want looking at will be disregarded.

    And from whence do these promises come?

    A company whose roots are in the most insidious betrayal of trust on the Internet, who indulged in the deployment by stealth of what Internet security professional classed as malware and rootkits. A company who categorically denied that one’s data was being intercepted and that web pages were being spoofed in thie initial trials.

    And that’s all we have. Their word.

    Which is worth what?

    The “security features” are pretty well a duplicate of what even basic Internet users already enjoy and appear to be a smokescreen.

    Then we have the selective editing of Wikipaedia articles to remove elements critical of Phorm.

    We have the complaints from users of BT forums that their critical comments have been deleted.

    We have further comments that members of certain BT owned or influenced forums who have links to antiphorm websites in their signatures have had posts removed.

    Sorry, but after following the history of this sorry tale there’s now no way I could ever trust either BT or Phorm.