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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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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.

  2. Paul

    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 ;)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  5. Tim
    Dead Vulture


    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 !

  6. JasonW

    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.

  7. Jason
    Black Helicopters

    Looks like ....

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

  8. Anonymous Coward

    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!

  9. Anonymous Coward


    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"?

  10. Anonymous Coward


    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.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    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.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  13. James

    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.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    nonononononononooooo! they speak evil doublespeak burn them all!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  16. Andrew

    Email them!

    The address is - 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.

  17. PJH

    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:


    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."

  18. Richard Atkins

    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?

  19. Steven


    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.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Unfair contract terms act anybody ?

  22. dervheid


    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.


  23. 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

  24. Aortic Aneurysm

    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)

  25. Vincent

    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.


    "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.

  26. Kenny Millar

    OK Everyone

    So now we all need to email and list as many websites as you can.

  27. Linbox

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

  28. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  29. Anon

    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}"

    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?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    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?

  31. Wokstation

    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.

  32. Paul Donnelly

    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!

  33. Per

    Flood them

    Let's flood them with website exclusion requests.

  34. robert
    Thumb Down

    glad i didtched bt

    I am glad I ditched BT when I did.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    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.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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:


    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



    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!


    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;

    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*.

  38. Martin Milan

    @ 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...


  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    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!

  40. jubtastic1

    Little Bobby Tables?

    I wonder how good Phorm are with input validation?'); DROP TABLE url;--

    xkcd FTW

  41. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  42. Peter White

    beware the blacklist email address

    there are numerous webmasters noting that they get read reciepts from upto 8 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



  43. Jason
    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...


    (A Pi$$ed off BT Customer)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  45. Anonymous Coward

    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

  46. Anonymous Coward

    Whisky Tango Foxtrot

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

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

  47. 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.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    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?

  49. Alexander Hanff

    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

    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

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Show us the way

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

  51. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    Get out of jail free...

    I'm still waiting to find out on what specific bases the City of London police have decided no further action was required on the 1st Phorm trial. It is said that they their reasons included lack of criminal intent (which AFAIK is not a defence in law, and certainly couldn't be an excuse for not investigating) and existence of "implied consent" on the basis that it was "for the customer's benefit" which is not so much a perversion of justice as a perversion of logic.

    (and FWIW, as of Mon 29th Sept a search of the CoL website turned up nothing re Phorm or BT... but I suppose that does make the ostrich's rear vulnerable.)

    Perhaps El Reg would care to ask the City plod for their reasoning... my request for an explanation would appear to have been indefinitely de-prioritised... even the public note "they declined to comment" would be nice to see (let's see how they cope with not commenting on something not sub judice)

    It's bad enough BT trying (but I suspect/hope - eventually - failing) to obfuscate the law to its own perverse ends but at least the police should be accountable.

    I'm furious - and I don't even life here (temporarily)... not that keen on coming back the way things are going...

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Data Protection Act

    This looks a good answer to me:

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


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

    Piss Off.

    Just how on earth have I implied that I give permission for my data to be harvested?

    What about homeworkers connecting to a work intranet? What about administrative but non-SSL areas of websites, CMS and CRM applications. There's a thousand and one scenarios where such profiling poses a huge security and privacy threat. I've just written a lengthy email to the local council (who I write and host various applications for). They're less than happy and have called for further investigation. I can play the fear game too.

    No matter how they spin it, there's an uninvited third party viewing mine and my clients' data. And they're packing a hidden dictaphone.

    Getting angry now. Anon 'cos of conflict of interests - work politics, man.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hats off to dephormation

    I will be looking at those lists right now actually, and I will put up a page explaining Apache deny's and link up to you, I will probably do a howto for lighttpd as well.


  55. Sir Runcible Spoon

    about the exclusion

    There is some anecdotal evidence to support the theory that any sites submitted to the web exclusion 'service' are profiled immediately (as in totally spidered).

    This means that they *could* use the cached information if a 'non-opted out' user went to that particular site in order to scrape it for keywords and update that users' profile accordingly.

    Not really cricket is it old boy?

  56. Ash

    Modify websites

    Check IP addresses against those alotted to BT and have your home page display a warning regarding Phorm and WebWise. Something with an obvious way to get someone's attention; "BT IS WATCHING YOU!" might work.

    Allow an obvious link to your main site, but spread the word. Email your friends and family. The next chain letter you receive, don't delete it. Reply to all with a message about Phorm.

    Spread the hate.

  57. Robert Harrison

    Virgin Media update with regard to Phorm

    Just spoke to a lady from VM in regard to a recent complaint letter about broadband reliability in my area[1]. I happened to ask about Phorm, having contacted them previously about it and whilst on the phone.

    The good news at least is that she was very much aware of Phorm, it sounded like many other customers have also been in contact with the same concerns.

    Anyway, she stated that all VM have *at the moment* is a technical adviser from Phorm but there is still no actual implementation on the horizon as it were.

    The bad news is that she trotted out the same 'it doesn't store personally identifiable information about you' line. She also insisted rightly or wrongly that it does not perform interception of your web stream. (WTF? I'm sure you'll be thinking.) The final comment from her reiterated that there is nothing in the pipeline yet in terms of implementation.

    So the ballet goes on.

    [1] I'm apparently going to receive a sparkly new cable modem. Whoop! Shame it won't come packaged with a glittery new infrastructure too.

  58. michael

    I am not a troll

    "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."

    they are not altering the pages they serve u they are just scaning them for information about what you like to do and then creating a profile of you ans then serving on there own website adverts you light like based on what you else you like to look at

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > "However, in its advice to Phorm and ISPs, the Home Office said it believed that

    > publishing a website gave implicit consent."

    This is perhaps true if it's a publicly available page, such as the Reg' front page.

    But certain pages, order confirmations, password response, banking details, legal missives from solicitors, e-mail services, none of which are not necessarily encrypted - are all definitely not "published" for the general public to view.

    I'm fairly sure that snooping on someone's legal communications is protected by other law as well.

    It demonstrates a pretty fucking naive view of the web.

  60. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    Home Office "advice"

    ...and in what way does HO advice constitute appropriate precedent/statement of parliamentary intent.

    How often does the HO lose its own cases?

    We need a test case. Would some kind philanthropist please seek leave to bring a private prosecution? (Once it's in the system the works could really be gummed up for Phorm/BT.... all the way to Europe.)

    How about an Anton-Pillar (?sp, and if they still exist) order against them - an AP would *really* shed some light on it all (and raise merry hell!)

  61. NB

    @AC - 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."




    mine's the one with an ssh tunnel to a VPS hosted by an ISP that doesn't do deals with scum like phorm in the pocket.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Call for Action

    Is there anyone out there with the contacts to wind up the likes of Panorama, Dispatches or similar to give this some publicity, or perhaps SKY news, they are an ISP after all and could maybe gain some customers.

    Did I really say that what a devious thought!

  63. Anonymous Coward

    @Sir Runcible Spoon

    In the interests of Freedom I have just sacrificed a website to their exclusion email. I have taken stats of the site now and will be happy to post up the results if I suddenly get a lot of visits from Russia or anything else to suggest I'm being scraped suddenly!

  64. Anonymous Coward

    Not just monitored

    Not only must all port-80 traffic be monitored, the same proportion of that traffic must also be manipulated. The same series of HTTP redirections will take place. If you have opted out, the ‘cloned’ cookies will represent this opt-out, where they would otherwise hold your Webwise UID. I still have concerns that the series of redirections, as well as the use of an interstitial page, will cause unacceptable side effects.

    The Terms and Conditions also state, “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.” Switching off BT Webwise may not be simple. I’ve argued against the length of time that the cloned Webwise cookies are given to live. Three days is too long, although this may have been shortened during the months’ of delay. Explaining how to switch off Webwise means telling someone to go to the BT Webwise invitation page to select the No Thanks option, and then to look through all their cookies and manually delete any Webwise cookies that have been copied to other domains. Ok, they could just delete all their cookies, but that could destroy things they wanted to keep, and most people are not going to want to set up something like the Firefox CookieCuller add-on.

  65. Sandy Cosser

    Always read the fine print

    People always forget to read the fine print, and then resort to shouting, yelling and complain forums when they find themselves stuck.

    Aside from transparency, and clear opt-in opt-out solutions for users, Phorm and BT Webwise have excellent privacy policies, if people would just care to read them:,24,25,26,27,28,29,42,43,44#privacy

    In addition, they aim to improve our lives by eliminating the irrelevant adverts that annoy us and replace them with items of actual interest. Doesn't sound too bad to me.

    Pity NebuAd in the US is still foundering in a sea of misunderstanding.

  66. Werner McGoole

    @Sir Runcible Spoon

    "This means that they *could* use the cached information if a 'non-opted out' user went to that particular site in order to scrape it for keywords and update that users' profile accordingly."

    Which causes me to wonder why they can't just use Google's cache of your website anyway. That way they'd avoid any issue with your copyright as you've already permitted Google to spider your site. Don't know what Google would make of it though.

  67. Vince

    Not a Opt Out for Web Site Owners at all

    So we can only deny Phorm as Site Owners if we ignore Google or Yahoo only. Could that be any more blatant as bull**** as an opt-out.

    Why the hell can't you opt-out of just Phorm. Maybe I don't mind Google or Yahoo but DO mind Phorm.

    Think maybe blocking all connections from BT ISP users would do the job, it'd soon become a major issue if big enough sites boycott it as customers would be calling up BT en masse.

  68. Andy ORourke

    @Copyright content

    Look, I dont like Phorm but at least get your facts right, if your web site displays adverts from OIX then a visitor to your site who has been profiled will get mor "Relevant" adverts, if you get your adverts from any other advertiser not associated with OIX then your adverts remain the same, phorm / OIX DO NOT alter content unless you subscribe to OIX

    I am (stil) with BT and have not been invited into the trial but my web browsing is suffering, it is very jerky all of a sudden, coincidence?

    I got a warning from the BT suppled Norton antivirus that it had detected an attempt to change my home page, I wonder if this is down to WebWise / BT trials?

    Dephormation used to have a page which detected coockies from Phorm but it doesnt seem to work any longer, anyone have a way to detect a phorm coockie on your system?

  69. Vince

    @ AC - Doesn't change the adverts on your site

    "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"

    No, that's the bit you're wrong about.

    Phorm doesn't change YOUR adverts. It tailors adverts shown on people using it's Advertising Internet Exchange thing (whatever that was called). It uses your site to "profile" the type of site the ISP customer likes visiting, and thus the type of advert they would like to see when visiting a site using Phorm's advertising service.

    (Still doesn't mean I like Phorm at all though).

  70. Anonymous Coward

    Whatever BT is smoking, pass it around

    From that FAQ page:

    Q: "How do you know that your customers want BT Webwise?"

    A: "The features contained in Webwise were developed in response to consumer demand. Our research shows consumers want greater security online and fewer irrelevant advertisements while also having greater control over their privacy online."

    Yeaaaah ... riiiiight.

    "Yes, I have a great desire for all my packets to be sniffed and then a big database to know what I like to buy, so I can still not see the ads when AdBlock Plus picks them off."

    Or something like that.

    Let's be honest:

    Q: "How do you know that your customers want BT Webwise?"

    A: "We don't, really - we're just intrigued by the piles and piles of potential CASH, and we don't really care who we alienate or what laws we break to get it. Knowing everything about your online life is an extra bonus."

    Too bad you don't have an icon with a big wig from Phorm with horns, because they're basically evil.

  71. Anonymous Coward


    They are doing all that without the permission of all their users, and force you to pay to get out of the contract (they don't see Phorm as a significant disadvantage). They have not been picked up for breaking the law re Unfair Terms or RIPA yet. They might be picked up over the Unfair Terms and for breach of EU Human Right to privacy - but not RIPA because it only applies to government agencies.

    Unless somebody can convince a heavily influenced judiciary that BT is a government agency since they get paid for datamining by the government.

    They are also scraping data from websites without their permission; who may (hopefully) launch multiple class action lawsuits against BT.

    They are also potentially scraping data from Google - who if they find out will (because they are bigger and richer than BT) hopefully grow a pair and sue them into the nether regions of hell.

    I hope.

  72. Jason
    Black Helicopters

    Is there a way

    of checking to see if the adverts i see are part of Phorm

    For example choose not to Opt in and i am looking at a site that has adverts.

    Can i check to see if I still get the ad's?

    Be interesting to see if my data is actually ignored


  73. Anonymous Coward

    @Sandy Cosser

    I put it to you that you are Kent Ertugrul - Can I have my £5 now?

    The problem is Sandy that Phorm are using MY websit,e which contains information that I have collected and collated and created, to earn themselves money WITHOUT my Permission.

    Is that right or fair?

    Is it right that the only way, as a webmaster, I can block Phorm is to deny search engines access to my websites (or deny Google/Yahoo!)? Search engines which bring people to my site? So to protect myself from Phorm ripping off my content I have to cut my own throat when it comes to search engines.

    I really would like The Register to get Google's and Yahoo!'s take on this blatant piggy backing/abuse.

  74. Andy ORourke
    Thumb Down

    @ is there a way


    Even if you opt out, even if BT impliment a network level opt out for this system some websites will be serving adverts from OIX, this is the advert serving side of things for Phorm so yes, you could see adverts from them, they just wont be "targeted" at you if you have not been "profiled" by Phorm

    Firefox, noscript, adblock etc, etc

  75. Wokstation

    @The new T&C - "Significant disadvantage"

    Other than being contrary to set contract-law (I believe it's law that material changes to a contract have to be validated by both sides), this new T&C only comes into affect if you accept them... if you get this new T&C, you ring BT and say "You've nulled my contract due to material disadvantage" and they reply with "it's SIGNIFICANT, read the T&C", you can quite easily counter it with "no it's not, I've not accepted that material change to the previous T&C, by which I am bound".

    They can't hold you to something you've not agreed.

    @Sandy Cosser

    "People always forget to read the fine print" - actually, people are reading the fine print and aren't liking what they find there, either. So do you work for BT, PHORM or an external PR company?

  76. Anonymous Coward

    T&Cs change

    I reckon changing the get-out clause from requiring "material" to "significant" disadvantage is a "material disadvantage" so burn your BT contracts *now* if you're going to, and you should be free.

  77. Alexander Hanff

    @MIchaelG - What are you smoking?

    RIPA does NOT only apply to public authorities, it also applies to private individuals and companies; I suggest you actually read RIPA before commenting about it and maybe look at the existing case law.

    Alexander Hanff

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Sandy Cosser

    "Corporate shill" doesn't really do you justice, does it?

  79. John Bayly

    We need a way of testing for Phorm server side

    I sent this to BT, not that I expect a decent response.


    We require a method of advising out website users that the pages we are serving to them are being profiled by BT Webwise.

    We are quite happy for Webwise to profile data sent to our users that have opted in to Webwise willingly. However a large amount of our users will be unaware of your T&C changes (or what they actually mean) and we feel it is necessary to inform them that possible confidential information is being profiled by a 3rd party for advertising purposes.

    As BT/Phorm are already editing HTTP headers being sent & received, it should be no problem to include a custom Header ie. X-BT-Phorm: Profiled by Phorm; so that webmasters are aware that content is being intercepted by a 3rd party.


    Basically, by saying that we're happy for our pages to be profiled for fully consenting Webwise users, it means that the robots.txt or opting the domain out methods cannot be used.

    I would like to see BT tag every request with an "Profiled by Phorm" header added to evey request.

    What I'd really like them to do is deep six the whole project, but they've show that they'll ignore their critics so that'll never happen

  80. RW
    Black Helicopters


    That won't work to rally anti-Phorm action on the part of govt. The whole "protect the children" and paedo-hysteria thing are just a fucking smokescreen to justify further steps toward the Stasification of Britain. Phorm is too, so you can be sure no one who cares will care about children in this case. Not that they ever really did in any other case.

    [Does that make sense?]

  81. The Other Steve

    @Sandy Cosser, Phorm PR flack

    "People always forget to read the fine print, and then resort to shouting, yelling and complain forums when they find themselves stuck."

    Jesus, just how stupid do you actually have to be to work in PR ?

    Read the title of the article again : "BT's Phorm ____small_print____: It's all your fault" (my emphasis).

    So actually, we _have_ all read the small print, and that is exactly what we are discussing now, duh!

    Please go back to you supervisor at CDR or whichever of Kent's merry band of turd polishers you are trying to do damage control for and ask her/him to send us someone with a clue. We'll still be able to tear your arguments to shreds, because our comprehension skills are largely quite reasonable (apparently unlike yours), but at least it will be mildly more interesting than the brain dead drivel you're currently able to deliver, which frankly just makes you look stupid and is damaging not only to your client but to your profession as a whole.

    If you aren't actually one of said turd polishers, then I seriously suggest you go away and take a reading comprehension course. You'll find it listed under 'remedial'.

    Oh, and have a great weekend, by the way.

  82. Neil Greatorex

    @Sandy Cosser

    You actually believe the marketing puff found on the website of a bloody spyware company?

    "clear opt-in opt-out solutions" Whaaat? You must be reading something the wrong page.

    Think you'd better get a fresh supply of your medication.

    Mine's still the one with Phuck off Phorm in rhinestones on the back.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Could BT's trial actually be a good thing?

    Now bear with me for a second here.

    Now as I understand it the Plod decided that the first two trials were legal, on the basis that as BT hadn't bothered to ask it's customers if they wanted to be involved there was implied/infered consent and they didn't really mean to break the law, which made everything just fine and dandy.

    Now with this latest trial, BT are asking for explicit consent and then pretty much ignoring your wishes and farming your data anyway. Now surely this means that there is no implied consent & they are intentionally breaking the law.

    Hey if BT/Phorm/The Plod are allowed to use Bizzaro World logic, why not beat them with thier own stick?

  84. Anonymous Coward

    Tell em to stuff their contracts...

    and let them take you to court. They wont do it cos they will lose and set a precedent and they dont want that. They dont want you anywhere near a court.

  85. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Hidden dDepths.... SuperSubAtomIQ Astute.

    Phorm and their Ilk, of course, are Susceptible to Virtual Grooming. A Probable Intentional RSS Feed Vulnerability Allowing 4 Opportunities 2 Knock.

    And Feed as in Paid for Feeds and Leads too. :-) That the Important Real Life Scenario Commitment that needs XXXXPorting into Virtual Reality v2.0. ....... with "Beginning Again ... with the Fruit of the Apple Consumed and Shared."

    A Spooky Post for US Cyber Commands ....... and Other ARGonauts.

  86. Bobby


    Geez! This thing gets sicker and sicker by the minute, when is it going to be stopped, it's total harrassment?

    Peeping toms stalking our children is sick.. Where's all the god damned law in this country got to?

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Cookies !

    I'm no expert on Cookies but would it not be possible to use the cookie info placed on someone's computer (kindly provided by Phorm & BT) to collect a database of information about that persons browsing habits. At least times & dates of access etc..even if other data is encrypted.

    Set up their own website providing this info to all and sundry with their own ad's like "See what mum and Dad are browsing while your asleep !", or "What was hubby doing at 2 am ?". Info kindly provided by BT & Phorm.

    A list of sites paying to use Phorm technology to target advertise would surly be available and anyone Browsing "Katies whatever" more than twice in a week would surely want to buy a dildo. The international nature of the internet makes it easy for anyone to read cookies & target Phorm users as obvious easy targets for scams. Large block of Data in the cookie, heavy user, surfs lots of stores, doesn't clean their cashe, uses BT, etc etc..

    I would imagine there's got to be some creative ways people will think of to use the info they are collecting against them. Just playing Devils Advocate & I would in no way condone the action but wouldn't it be possible for some nefarious person of ill intent to reset the cookies Opt-out or expiry dates, clone the cookies with new info or even opt the whole of North America and Asia into the system ?

    While at the moment it's not a great loss to clean your cashe (replace a few forum passwords), not get recognised by a few sites, when your whole browsing experience is being logged daily surely it will make it more worthwhile for scammers to use this info & if the info is wrong or scrambled wouldn't just the same old standard ad's come up from the highest payers every time the user returned to a Phorm associated site so limiting their targetting ad feature ?

    Please correct me if I'm wrong on any point but don't flame me for having an opinion. Ta !

  88. Bobby

    No means 'NO' ...

    This is legally and morally wrong and I would imagine one could obtain a high court injunction against BT's irresponsible actions or at least force them to comply with the ICO's directive which clearly states 'it must be opt-in' and no harrassment thereafter for those who choose to opt out. No means 'NO' and I have no intention of educating my children about BT spyware other than say no once and if the continue forcing it we will bring a charge of harrassment/stalking against them.

    As for you website owners, you did choose to go public but I do agree with you that nobody has the right to scan and alter your content to profit from via 3rd party abuse. Seek an injunction...

  89. Schultz

    No business

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think big Google makes money not simply by collecting information, but by cleverly mining this information if a customer comes and asks a question.

    Somehow the asking part got lost when Phorm looked at the idea, so they'll serve unsolicited ads which might get a little less attention. And I have my doubts about the quality of their matching algorithms, so they'll probably have much less business than they expect if they ever go live.

    Having said that, there must be lots of other business opportunities once you can follow the complete data flow from a few million people. Legal, illegal, scheissegal" seems to be the approach here.

  90. Claire Rand

    how long before...

    the filtering system 'accidentall' corrupts pages "at random".

    which will totally by random remove any banners they add to a list to warn people whats happening.

    oh and anti-phorm sites get the 'phish filter' treatment?

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Would it not be possible to detect the phorm / webwise spyder and modify your content, so as to mislead phorm as to the type of site you have, may be by recognising a thorough spidering that isn't Yahoo or Google etc I sure a number of popular websites working together could work it out.

    Perhaps something on wild flowers, e.g. The blue bell is a woodland flower used in fu**ing black rituals, and found mainly in shaded Anal sex areas, frequented by the devil... etc

    If you can get the juxtaposition of childish and nursery things together with raunchy content, the children will soon have unsuitable objects being advertised to them along with the nursery rhymes.

    There may be other fun to be had in poisoning the phorm database, or even faking such a thing,

    disgusted of Tonbridge Wells may be a bit shocked at getting offers of funeral services when shopping for a truss.

    Paris cos she knows who is getting Fu**ed, as opposed to BT who Fu** you.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sandy Cosser

    "Aside from transparency, and clear opt-in opt-out solutions for users, Phorm and BT Webwise have excellent privacy policies, if people would just care to read them"

    Is this the same privacy policy when Phorm was operating as 121Media and installing spyware on unsuspecting people's computers?

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Things come back and bite you on the bum.

    One other thing we should not forget regarding T&C's.

    When the BT-Phorm axis were caught wiki-fiddling, their defence was that they had not read the T&C's.

    They cannot therefore have any reasonable expectation that other people will do so either.

  94. Anonymous Coward

    How about ..

    How about your own spider that ranges round the internet far and wide to make so much noise that your real browsing gets lost in the all the other traffic, perhaps masquerading as 10 or 20 different users..

    Perhaps a few tens of thousands people with a bit of software that just sends url requests, never bothering to get receive the data, so as to keep the load down and the volume of irrelevant urls up.

    Perhaps we could coordinate weeks of data, such as wildlife week, toilet paper week, Scientology week. Where the aggregate data would skew the ads,

    and then visit a phomed ad site, say if a big supplier suddenly serves up millions of hits on a single product, I don't know say billions of hits on baby oil. Johnson and Johnson are going to be a little annoyed at a weird peak in their costs.

    Yes I realise that Phorm could discard your data, but maybe that's what you would want.

    I wonder if a sort of folding@home for BT subscribers to mislead and make the Phorm data useless would work a PhuckBT@home movement.

    My coat is the one with a would be mildly anarchic cookbook in the pocket.

  95. Neil Greatorex


    Umm, left your pills at home this morning, did you?

    May I, politely, suggest that you keep a second supply in your handbag. That should preclude some of your more impenetrable posts :-)

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Bt, Phorm and MAC keys

    Well seems BT still giving the same bull, at the AGM they did say they would release the market research showing the questions used to get these results saying we wanted Phorm. Still waiting nice on BT again fails to deliver. Yes people are requesting MAC keys from BT and looking on their BT beta forums many are still waiting after the 5 working days that OFCOM rules clearly say. Some looking at other ISPs are suddenly getting calls trying to offer deals to get them to renew contracts when they are still 3 to 5 months left. This strikes me as panic on BT's side but they have been warned this would happen if they went ahead with phorm.

    My son requested his MAC when BT again failed to solve his long running internet problem, he was told they had broken the contract so would waive the leaving charges. He ordered sky after talking to BT expecting his MAC within 5 working days... He has the sky fitted over a week after he requested his MAC, BT still hasn't generated his MAC. Just after the sky was fitted BT called to try and sort out his internet, suddenly they are offering to send out anew homehub which they were trying to charge him for a week before, he refused and said where is my MAC. The guy started to say he would be charged for all months left if he moved. He mentioned that he had been told this was waived, the guy said it wasn't in the notes. He asked where he writes to get access to everything on his records held at BT suddenly he found it on his notes... Now still waiting for his MAC I have told him to report this to OFCOM what’s the betting that they do nothing..


  97. Anonymous Coward

    Class action

    With all the problems these days with private data poping up in all sorts of places. Is there not some sort of way that a class action case (I'm no lawyer so forgive me if there is some obvious reason as to why not) can be put together to prevent this blatant breach of our privacy from going ahead ??

    As it doesnt look like the UK system is going to work for us here looking at what the Cops said about the previous Phorm trials, is there not a way we can lobby the EU courts to force the UK govt to step in ?

    As I said, I'm not a legal eagle but was curious as to why we cant have this kind if blatant raping of customers rights prevented.

    ---- mine's the one with the personal details in it

  98. RogueElement
    Thumb Up

    @Brian Morrison

    regarding your post that details the recent change made to the BT T&Cs.

    The change of the word "material" to the word "significant" is a significant change to the meaning of paragraph 11 of the T&Cs. The change to the T&Cs has the sole effect specifically to cause "significant disadvantage" to the customer and thus empowers the customer to cancel immediately his/her/it's contract under the terms of the new T&Cs without penalty.

    Whilst I have not read BTs T&Cs I suspect that the common clause (changes to these T&Cs will invalidate ...) exists somewhere else and can be used to back up this argument. Furthermore, as I understand it, all legally binding contracts MUST be signed before they can be enforced.

  99. Bob Merkin

    @Neil Greatorex

    Oh, you must be new here. See Lewis or Lester to get your Martian Translation Matrix installed. The insights you'll receive from our resident Martian friend will astound you. He's really quite harmless, and after a while he actually starts making quite a bit of sense.

  100. halfcut

    Subject: Include me out

    Hello Website-exclusion,

    I wish my website to be excluded from anything you or associated

    companies do; now and in the future. This is because you are a

    company of bottom-feeding scumsuckers who have no more right to live

    on God's clean earth than a virus. Less, in fact - virii can be

    beneficial. You, on the other hand, collect money by illegally

    tapping people's personal browsing habits; which has benefit to nobody

    but yourselves, and which has the potential to cause inestimable harm

    to your "customers"

    The website:

    is my property and I do not wish you to trespass upon that; either by

    referring the poor bastards you're monitoring or by indexing with any

    kind of of automated indexing software or by any other method. You

    agree that visits to this website will be chargeable at £50 per visit.

    Reading this email constitutes agreement to the terms and conditions.

    As you read this, please consider getting a proper job and doing

    something that even tangentially has some small benefit to any part

    of your species.

    Legal blather follows:



    > 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.


    * *


  101. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Who is responsible for Doling out Flash Cash/Lines of Credit for CyberSpace dDevelopment?

    A Valid and Legitimate Question which One can ask of any Public Funded Administrative Body Fronting/Pimping Capitalist Ponzis .......

    [And ishe first sentence you can read there, a mirror of the Slush Funding for the Wall Street Bailout. More Rent to be Flushed away into Capitalist Coffers Guaranteeing their Running the Gauntlet for Suitable Paining Punishment and the Demise and Total Collapse and Disappearance of All of their Stock Market Value...... with a Transfer of such Wealth as is Fully Warranted to AI Beta Market with NEUKlearer Future Options and Mutualised Derivatives in Shared Source Programs.

    "..... and after a while he actually starts making quite a bit of sense." .... By Bob Merkin Posted Friday 3rd October 2008 23:17 GMT.

    Suggesting that the Slow Start is Due to Poor Reception Analysis rather than Transmission Communications Protocols.

    However, it should be Realised that in a Web Based Network InterNetworking Medium, One has Multiple Operating Systems with Myriad Divisive Nationalised and Regional Language Hurdles to Jump/Overcome, with a Universal Virtual Machine Driver, Tempting All to Create a New Space Language for CyberIntelAIgent Use.

    AI Language in Plain Text with Zero Ambiguity, for Easy Transcription into Any Foreign or Local Tongue. ....... A QuITe Harmless Alien Language for Alien Languages in a Singularity Project Created in Civil CyberSpace..... 42 Generate Control and Power of Economies and Industry with AI and ITs Virtual Governance Facilities..

  102. John Dow


    "the Home Office said it believed that publishing a website gave implicit consent."

    Does that mean I can put a banner on my site saying I DO NOT give consent?

  103. David


    I too used to be a BT employee and I actually go back to the days when "Post Office Telephones", as a government department (little yukky-green vans with a crown symbol on the side and all that!), used to run the country`s telecommunications as a service. I was also around during privatisation and, since then, the arrogance of the company has to be experienced to be believed. Customers (called "subscribers" in the old days) now have to wait days to have a line fault repaired instead of (literally) hours when I was a maintenance engineer. To get to speak to a knowlegeable engineer on the phone these days is well-nigh impossible. The off-shore call centres are a joke and this latest Phorm debacle seems to the thin end of a very thick wedge. I think I have read approximately 2 postings in all the time I have been following this that have begrudgingly suggested that targeted advertising might be better than the randon stuff we get now. I have ad blockers, anyway, so that doesn`t concern me. What DOES concern me are the repeated comments that no personal details are stored. We`ve all heard of software and websites that have been compromised in some way and I wouldn`t mind betting that there are hackers, even as I speak, trying to work out ways of getting into Phorm`s system. If they crash it, all well and good, in my opinion.

  104. NT

    From Bob Merkin

    << [amanfromMars is] really quite harmless, and after a while he actually starts making quite a bit of sense. >>

    At which point, you should *really* start worrying.

  105. Sam

    @Sandy Cosser

    Is that rhyming slang?

  106. Andy Livingstone

    They make me feel like Victor Meldrew.

    Bastards. It's not a "request", it's an instruction. Who do they think they are?

    So, if we don't want Phorm's robots on site they think we don't want ant one else's?

    Ah well, that's my sites listed to them. Standing by for Russian invasion.

  107. Anonymous Coward



    A contract is illegal if it favours one party above the other this has been tested in court and there are precendents.

    Unfair Terms and Conditions and common law.

    A contractual agreement which has not been individually negotiated will be regarded as Unfair, if contrary to the requirement of good faith , it causes a significant imbalance in the parties rights and obligations under the agreement , to the detriment of the consumer.

    A contract shall be regarded as not being individually negotiated where it has been drafted in advance and the consumer has therefore not been able to infuence the substance of the terms.

    So phuck em and leave. You wont see them anywhere near a court cos they know they will loose. AND it aint a criminal offence its a civil one. So its up to them to prove their loss.


  108. Graham Marsden

    "Consumers want...

    ... greater control over their privacy online"

    Right, so when people are browsing my site, selling affordable leather products (ie BDSM gear) they *really* want Phorm snooping around and checking what they're buying...!

    I've just added the "Phorm Prohibited" text to my T&Cs.

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Informed consent/website owners........

    Right, where to start ? How about thise.... Get the phuck off my lawn you phucking gobshite bastards.

    In publishing a site I consent to Phorm chopping ads on my site ? No chance. I'm adjusting my boilerplate as I post this.

    Oh yes, and what exactly is the benefit to the user in "webwise". phuck all ?

  110. ted frater

    A possible answer

    My problem is ive been with Virgin .net since they started, and by and large have been happy with the service. so lots of folk know my email address and my small website I have with virgin.

    Now I would find it a real chore to try and remember to let everyone know a new email addrees if I change ISP to avoid Phorm If Virgin decide to sell their soul to the devil.

    I ran a trial yesterday using an old laptop which has win 98 on it and has netscape 3 as one of the browsers I used to use.

    I plugged in the US robotics modem into the phone socket and used my dialup connection to For email it worked flawlwssly.

    So I think Ive the answer.

    Im sure I dont need my mac code for dial up so Ican therefore keep my email and website with virgin and as there will be no browsing, No profiling!!!

    ll move my broadband connection to an outfit that doesnt use phorm.

    one other worry, not mentioned anywhereso far,

    as 90%of net users use the last mile? or so of BT copper, will bt still have the deviousness to monitor my traffic?

    If I found out they would have a fire problem, a coincidence of course.

  111. Greg Bates
    Dead Vulture

    RIPA I think only applies to public bodies...

    BT is not a public body, it is a private company. Therefore as far as I can see (IANAL) RIPA does not apply to it. Please read RIPA. Now do you see what I mean?

    That's OK though, because other rules govern the legality of wiretapping by private bodies, and the European regulations prohibit it. What they are doing is illegal but nothing to do with RIPA. I think it clouds the issue.

    Why does BT have any customers? I'm confused about this. I understand the phone line market, people may need phonelines for broadband, but why are so many of the posters here with BT at all? If Lehman Brothers can hit the dust so can BT. I can't wait to see the day. If I had shares in BT I would sell, sell, sell.

  112. Anonymous Coward

    Wake up n smell the coffee... Leave BT

    Wake up n smell the coffee... Leave BT. Nuff said

  113. Anonymous Coward

    https as server default

    The time has come to run all webservers using SSL encryption (https://), these days server hardware is powerfull enough for that.

    That's what I will be doing with my webservers and I would suggest this to everyone, at least you can be sure noone can modify any of your content en-route.

    Game over for phorn on my web servers.

  114. Somme1

    Not only

    do you need to opt out from every userid on every PC on your connection... you actually need to do it with every browser you use also...

    For example if you have multiple browsers installed (eg IE, firefox, safari, opera, chrome), you need to Opt out using each of the installed browsers (browsers don't share their cookies).

    Maybe this opens a legal counter attack... if their information doesn't specifically state that you need to opt-out with each browser you use, Opt out using IE and then sue them when they monitor you when you use firefox (after all they didn't say you would need to opt out with firefox too, and you have explicitly asked them not to monitor you as evidenced by the cookie in IE).

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Exclusion list sent

    As a web freelancer with a number of personal and commercial projects, I've just emailed the exclusion mailbox a list of about 35 domains to be excluded. And as earlier comments have said, come on everyone with a website or websites - let's swamp them.

  116. Mostor Astrakan
    Thumb Up

    This may actually be a better one.

    "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."

    Hmm... This may actually be good news. Since the disadvantage need no longer be material, it brings into play the condition that now, you have the uneasy feeling that your doings on-line are being monitored and you feel you can no longer trust your ISP. That may well be a "significant" disadvantage, though not a "material" one.

    That means that you can avoid the penalty charges for ending early if you no longer trust BT.

  117. Stephen Stagg


    "We will endeavour to keep our list of suspected fraudulent or illegal sites as up to date as possible and to warn you about any sites on this list if you attempt to view them..."

    So if you try to visit the bt webwise site, it should block itself??

    I'm more interested in the clause: "You consent, and you agree to ensure that each user of the BT Webwise service consents, to all technical operations that we may carry out in connection with providing the BT WebWise service."

    As a BT Broadband user, I never consented to this, and it seems that BT have just made it impossible for me to fulfil the Terms of Service, so I can just ignore them and stop paying?

  118. chris
    Black Helicopters

    I'll just block all BT Internet mails then

    I know of no sensible people who use BT internet

    so I'll just block all routes to and from it.

    Problem solved

    Voila !!!

  119. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: RIPA I think only applies to public bodies...

    Hi Greg,

    RIPA assuredly does apply to private companies. See here:

    Also the Home Office's own opinion on Phorm here:

    - Chris Williams

  120. Florence Stanfield
    Thumb Down

    Will all with access

    Will all those with access to the phorm profiler and other information have the police checks?

    Since BT will be profiling young children what is to stop a paedophile from working gathering this information and also using the system to get personal details on the children. Yes I know you all keep saying it is anonymous but there is ways with a system like this to gather hidden information. We also know that word of mouth isn’t enough in today’s society with the paedophiles

  121. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Up

    Moving from BT and keeping your eMail

    @ ted frater:

    I moved from BT over 3 months ago. Not only for broadband, but telephony as well.

    I can *still* send and receive mail via BT's mail servers using my old login and address.

    Don't know if Virgin would be quite so incompetent, though.

  122. Killian


    "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."

    And how exactly are they going to do that if the user's traffic is anonymous to the system? Unless it isn't after all...

  123. Anonymous Coward

    interesting phormula ...

    So.. they will be intercepting everyones data, it's just that they promise to ignore the info from people who Opt Out? They're going right ahead with it even though they haven't yet figured out how to do it, meaning it doesn't even comply with the t&c that people are agreeing to ??

    I'm a bit confused.

    Florence please don't use the pedophile line, lest this turn into a complete farce . This is bad enough that you don't need to throw in the words terrorist or pedophile to make a point against it. You need to stop doing that, you're as bad as everyone else (ie: the government) who relies on those words to get action taken. Enough is enough.

    Lets face it though, even if BT only had 2000 customers, you wouldn't even be able to get that many to change. .

    I'm also wondering how every owner of every website is supposed to know about Phorm and disagree to it? This is completely unfair, putting the burden on everyone who uses the internet to know about some random company (Phorm) and take action to make sure they don't negatively effect them when they're just trying to do what we all have every right to do unhindered- use the freaking internet. They are exploiting everyone to the Nth degree.

    Eg: If there are 6 companies like Phorm does that mean that every website online is fair game until the individuals in charge find out about these companies, track all 6 down, find an address for all 6 and submit 6 separate request to be put on their blacklist... WHAT??

    What can be done besides switch ISPs? Not enough people even know about this, so you'll never get enough people actually going to the effort to switch.. It's hopeless

  124. Matt Bridge-Wilkinson

    So they spy on web traffic to serve ads to your competitors.

    It seems to be that as a website publisher, its not in your interest to let Phorm profile your sites visitors.

    If you dont use opt out and dont use OIX (or whoever it is that servers the ads?) you are effectively saying, please serve adverts for my competitors to my customers (or potential) for similar products and services. I really cant see any sound business mind agreeing to that, or wanting it.

    I am about to drop Virgin for completely poor service, but certainly wont be going to BT.

  125. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    just coincidence?

    It must be plain to all now that the BT secret trials were sanctioned at the highest levels of government. Hence Bt's claims that they were no acting illegally. Hence, no action by the ICO, Met police or anybody else, and the underwhelming attitude of Members of Parliament etcetera. Our control freak government wanted to test the Phorm system ready for its own roll out of the legislation to oblige ISPs to hand over all our emailing and internet usage. Must find that Boy Scouts' book of codes and ciphers.

  126. Anonymous Coward


    Well I've had acknowledgement that my site has been excluded and there has been no obviously "suspicious" traffic so I think we can say that they don't scrape before exclusion.

  127. fnordianslip

    Dephorming the Reg

    Will the Register lead the way and add the appropriate wording to deny Phorm the data-mining rights to it's web trafic?



    Penguins, cos I've never heard of them performing nasty data-mining operations.

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