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Innovation

BT gives Phorm the boot

After running consumer trials of Phorm's Webwise user-tracking system - and facing strident objections from consumers and the European Union - British Telecom has opted to give Phorm the boot, the Guardian reports.Allegedly the decision is financial.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor on
After running consumer trials of Phorm's Webwise user-tracking system - and facing strident objections from consumers and the European Union - British Telecom has opted to give Phorm the boot, the Guardian reports.

Allegedly the decision is financial. BT is going to put its resources into building out next-gen broadband but, the Guardian says:

Privately, however, BT bosses have been increasingly concerned about consumer resistance to advertising based on monitoring users' online behaviour and specifically about the backlash against Phorm.

The question in Britain now is if Virgin Media or TalkTalk will go for Phorm. Virgin still wants to pursue behavioral advertising, especially for video on demand, but has "cooled to Phorm." TalkTalk might yet become a customer but only on an opt-in basis.

And major content providers may opt out of Phorm's technology, meaning they don't want their users' website activity to be monitored. Amazon has already announced that desire and Google and Bebo are said to be considered the same. Without Google, how much meaning can Phorm's tracking data really have?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been an outspoken opponent of Phorm, telling the BBC last year:

[My web data is] 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. ... I myself feel that it is very important that my ISP supplies internet to my house like the water company supplies water to my house. It supplies connectivity with no strings attached. My ISP doesn't control which websites I go to, it doesn't monitor which websites I go to.

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