BT Bans Talking About Phorm, Erases Earlier Discussions

from the we-were-always-at-war-with-Eurasia dept

You may recall that BT was one of the bigger supporters of Phorm, the controversial clickstream tracking system that would allow ISPs like BT to insert their own behaviorally targeted ads into your web surfing. The company held extensive trials with the system, without letting users know that their clickstream data was being sold to advertisers in order to do more targeted advertising. Now that UK officials have decided that Phorm is legal, if clearly explained to consumers, BT has chosen a funny way to make sure there's clarity around the system. Slashdot points out that BT has apparently banned discussion of Phorm on its forums and erased earlier forum discussions about the technology. How's that for openness?

Is it really so hard to allow open discussion on such a topic? If BT believes that it's reasonable to use the technology, then why not explain why clearly, responding to the critics? The only reason to erase these discussions is if BT knows that what's it's doing is highly questionable, and BT would rather not have to explain itself.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Spectere, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 12:03pm

    It's sad how common that sort of thing is.

    I love when companies try to prohibit their customers from speaking out about controversial policies.

    Even if we assume that the reason that they were taking care of those particular threads is because they weren't in the appropriate section, why delete them? Why not just close them and tell the original poster to recreate it elsewhere? Why not simply move it to a more appropriate section? It's almost like they're asking for negative press.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Forum Moderators in deleting irrelevant topics shocker!!!!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    Re:

    Forum Moderators in deleting irrelevant topics shocker!!!!
    Hey, looky, a BT shill right here in our very midst!

     

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  4.  
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    Private Person, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 1:19pm

    Can ANY Democratic System declare Communication Wiretapping Legal?

    Amongst the last posts deleted!

    What happens when we cheapen Human Rights?

    http://un.org/Overview/rights.html

    Article 12.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    Article 30.

    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

     

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  5.  
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    SteveD, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 1:46pm

    That really depends if you define it as wiretapping or not.

    Anyway, the headline in itself is slightly disturbing. To think that a teleco would 'ban' discussion of something...does this mean my phoneline is going to get disconnected if I mention it during a call?

     

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  6.  
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    Douglas Gresham, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 2:20pm

    Re:

    It's worse than that - although we in the UK have comparatively good competition in the telco space (especially in broadband), BT still controls most of the copper that everyone has to go through, and I've known businesses be explicitly told by sales reps that if they didn't take a BT package for other services, they'd get nerfed performance and zero service on the parts they had to take from BT (which, by the way, is against BT's public mandate and super illegal). In theory, those parts of the business are disjoint and independent. Theory's such a wonderful thing.

    Essential public service providers that get transformed into private enterprises with no competition are about the most anti-consumer, anti-free-market, anti-anything-bloody-working invention ever, and sadly they have been something of a British obsession in recent years.

     

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  7.  
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    Joseph Young, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    A Very One-sided Discussion

    BT have never tried to engage directly with their customers over BT Webwise. This may be because Phorm made an honest attempt at direct engagement, and it wasn’t exactly a PR triumph. Before the deletions, the BT Community Forums had a couple of very long threads consisting of: posts from the genuinely confused or concerned, and that really deserved an answer from BT; a significant number of goading posts, from people who already knew the answers to their questions and knew the answers weren’t good for BT; and some out-and-out angry posts.

    An alternative interpretation of BT’s behaviour is that those forum threads no longer serve any purpose, as BT are about to pull the plug on this particular, ill-fated project.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 24th, 2008 @ 6:43pm

    Clickstream Club

    The first rule of Clickstream Club is that you do not talk about Clickstream Club

     

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  9.  
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    Private Person, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 1:21am

    Re:

    Of Course it's not just a Wiretap it's "Interception & Alteration of a two way data communication explicitly designed to prevent such acts!"; which is meant to be PRIVATE!

    For Instance:-

    I always thought that tampering with goods in transit without due procedure was Illegal as well!

    So many Laws & Rules broken by this system!

     

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  10.  
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    Sungei Patani, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 12:06pm

    BT's Right to Exercise Editorial Control

    BT is a commercial organisation and its web sites are part of its assets. It has every right to exercise editorial control over its own property and anyone who believes otherwise is naive. There are many alternative channels (such as this one) where people may disparage (perhaps justifiably)Phorm.

    Don't spoil your argument criticising an aspect of BT's behaviour where it ifs fully justified.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Sungei Patani, Nov 25th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

    BT's Right to Exercise Editorial Control

    BT is a commercial organisation and its web sites are part of its assets. It has every right to exercise editorial control over its own property and anyone who believes otherwise is naive. There are many alternative channels (such as this one) where people may disparage (perhaps justifiably)Phorm.

    Don't spoil your argument criticising an aspect of BT's behaviour where it ifs fully justified.

     

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  12.  
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    G, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 1:59am

    re:BT's Right to Exercise Editorial Control

    I don't think anyone is claiming they [BT] don't have the right to delete these discussions from their forum.


    The question is - why have they done it and don't you think it's a bit daft from a PR point of view?

     

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  13.  
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    D'Underhead, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 2:48am

    @Sungei Patani

    You sound like a typical salesman!

    If I recall correctly the BT forum was set up to discuss technical aspects of BTs service. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but Webwise seems to be a new and fairly technical aspect of BT's product line and, as such, fully within the scope of the discussion forum.

    Obviously, BT's forums are it's own and from which they can delete what they wish but it's highly curoious that the policy is being applied very exclusively to Webwise.

    Sorry, but the stated purpose of the BT forum is for technical aspects of BTs products. If BT doesn't like the postings, perhaps it is perhaps because the product is not acceptable to the technically competent, rather than the posting being unpalatable to BT.

     

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  14.  
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    Some_Bloke, Nov 26th, 2008 @ 2:58am

    Re: A Very One-Sided Discussion

    "Phorm made an honest attempt at direct engagement"

    Do you mean the Apropos Rootkit and it's unannounced installation on users PCs, concealed within the installer for other applications or the indeoendent reviews of Phorm's product which turn out to be less than independent?

     

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  15.  
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    DiddlySquat, Dec 16th, 2008 @ 10:05am

    Daft buggers!

    "BT is a commercial organisation and its web sites are part of its assets. It has every right to exercise editorial control over its own property and anyone who believes otherwise is naive. There are many alternative channels (such as this one) where people may disparage (perhaps justifiably)Phorm."

    Yeah. It's be akin to having one's views on share prices 'edited' in the iii discussion forum. iii is into share dealing and could be similarly argued as having control over its forums.

    That would make just as much sense as BT'#s actions over technical comments in its technical forums.

    Idiot.

     

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