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BT Drops Phorm, Citing More Pressing Priorities 94

Posted by kdawson
from the absurdly-invasive dept.
Tom DBA notes a story up at The Register that begins "BT has abandoned plans to roll out Phorm's controversial web monitoring and profiling system across its broadband network, claiming it needs to concentrate resources on network upgrades... BT's announcement comes a day before MPs and peers of the All Party Parliamentary Communications Group are due to begin an investigation of Internet privacy. Their intervention follows the EU's move to sue the UK government over its alleged failure... properly [to] implement European privacy laws with respect to the trials, drawing further bad publicity to the venture." We've discussed Phorm many times in the past.
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BT Drops Phorm, Citing More Pressing Priorities

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @05:06AM (#28619193)

    How do we know Phorm didn't use deep packet inspection/manipulation to show us this article while in fact it's not there.....

    Now I still have to find an appropriate Matrix quote and my tin foil hat.

  • n2n (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hansraj (458504) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @05:18AM (#28619247)

    Has anyone used the n2n peer VPN [ntop.org]?

    It would be neat if such solutions were built into the popular distros; with all the monitoring creeping up around us it is about time that our PCs defaulted to encrypted traffic.

    • by Samuar (829173)
      It would be neat but... If most internet traffic was encrypted, maybe more funding would be provided by governments to snooping authorities. If my traffic is encrypted, but everyone else's isnt, maybe the authorities would be content at just looking at everyone elses traffic. Then again, if i'm in the minority encrypting traffic, maybe I stand out a bit too much and will draw more attention to myself. Perhaps this is my kobayashi maru.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      Why is the Wintard version payware? Pre-compiled and with an installer for â50? I'll stick with Tor thanks.
      • I guess their logic is, if you pay for an OS that's by no means better than what you can get for free, you'll pay for a program, too, even if all they did for you was compiling it.

      • Because we can't all live in a fantasy world where all goods and services are free as in beer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by raddan (519638) *
      I'm a little shaky on what the n2n people mean when they say "layer 2 VPN"-- I think this means that they run a tunneled virtual data link layer on top of UDP-- but they also mention the requirement of supernodes (ala Skype) to allow NAT traversal to happen. I'd have to know a little bit more about how the protocol works to know for sure, but I am a bit more skeptical about security when you allow that to happen. Perhaps they built it as a virtual layer 2 so that you could ensure that your upper-level end
  • Not too good. (Score:5, Informative)

    by auric_dude (610172) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @05:25AM (#28619279)
    From BT via the http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/default.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    "[Our decision has] nothing to do with cost or privacy, it's about resources and priority,"

    • Re:Not too good. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wjh31 (1372867) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @05:34AM (#28619323) Homepage
      "...nothing do to with cost..."

      Money isnt a resource then?
      • Not for BT who own pretty much the whole telecommunications infrastructure of the UK..
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by lobiusmoop (305328)

          Um, no. The government has forced BT to implement local-loop unbundling [wikipedia.org] to remove their monopoly on telecomunications in the UK.

          • Not so much to remove the telecoms monopoly, just to make sure that their monopoly on phone lines doesn't translate to a monopoly on broadband internet as well.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by compro01 (777531)

            They still own the infrastructure, LLU just requires them to lease it to whoever is interested.

          • by Xest (935314)

            That's not what LLU does.

            LLU just lets companies put their own kit at the point where a customers line terminates at the local exchange. BT still owns the exchange and everything upstream of it and as such it has no effect on removal of their telecommunications monopoly, it only prevents them building an additional monopoly around the internet related kit (i.e. ADSL technology) at the local loop. Those companies still have to use BT for everything upstream of the connection point in the exchange and BT stil

      • Nope. You can just print more when you need it...

      • by mjwx (966435)

        "...nothing do to with cost..."

        Money isnt a resource then?

        Translation:

        Phorm couldn't deliver the promised revenue. All the rest is marketspeak.

    • I think, all over the world we realize that our rights online will evaporate in the next few years, as governments edge their way into yet another facet of our lives... I just wish we could all agree on that point and try to negotiate a fair trade. Really I think the brits should trade their internet privacy for the following:

      1. a new season of Coupling ending in an uncensored lesbian orgy between all three of the chicks
      2. a return visit of Theo Pamphlet to Top Gear, so that we can see "Theo Pamphlet" o
    • by Heed00 (1473203)
      Considering that Phorm is supposed to generate revenue for the ISP by using deep packet inspection at the ISP level to snoop on customers traffic in order to serve "targeted ads", it seems dubious to think they would drop it for reasons of "resources and priority". One would think that generating revenue would be a high priority and that money coming in would be seen as an increase in resources.

      C'mon BT, you spied on your customers, got caught and now you're back peddling -- admit it, you gave no thought
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wowsers (1151731)

      BT will wait until Phorm renames itself then BT will roll out the system. They will not pass up the opportunity to earn money for nothing after racking up idiotic amounts of losses because they "invested" in foreign (non-UK) businesses, and could not be bothered to update the UK network, choosing to flog that dead horse copper cable for all it's worth for another 20+ years.

      People are not bothered about Phorm and BT, hell, they aren't even bothered by BT's cr@ppy quality Internet and comparatively bad deal i

      • they are still the biggest ISP in the UK

        This is a legacy of the old state run monopoly system. Companies like British Telecom, British Gas etc have a strong hold on the public imagination so despite consistently performing worse and charging more they still hold sway over more dynamic, newer companies who struggle against their entrenched power. The watchdog system that was put in place after the monopolies were sold off is supposed to maintain the balance but struggles in the face of corporate lobbying . . .

      • by guruevi (827432)

        Actually, Phorm in it's current form (pun not intended) will not return. What will return is a milder version of it. Then they can say: look it's not as bad as Phorm, but it needs to be done for the children. The same happened when they planned to change our promised unlimited broadband to a monthly 10GB limit. They received a lot of backlash from their customers then said: ok we won't do it and behind the scenes they changed the contract to say they reserve the right to bother you if you're using too much

  • by AnalPerfume (1356177) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @05:39AM (#28619343)
    This "focusing revenues" sounds a lot like an equation which didn't work out well for Phorm.

    On one had is the money they "could" make by introducing it by adverts, on the other is the potential number of existing customers who will jump to another ISP added to the number of potential customers not even looking at BT as an option when switching from their ISP. Their current subscribers direct debits are guaranteed income with most subscribers not bothering to look around. Not to mention dealing with Phorm gives you the badge of a pariah.

    They could be right, in that it's more profitable to drop Phorm. That said, I'm not sure they dropped it permanently. They seem to have bought into the DPI advert injection model, so no doubt they will only put it into the "let's get back to that after the broohaha has calmed down" box before being reintroduced a couple of years from now under a different name with lessons learned about "how not to get caught". They may still face further legal / political fallout over what they've done to date with Phorm, so dropping Phorm may help mitigate any sanctions.

    For those who are currently with BT and have reconsidered moving away after this announcement I say "watch this space, BT have proven themselves perfectly willing to fuck their customers over once, they will do it again". BT think they have done no wrong. They can't be trusted. They avoided police action in the UK, they may yet avoid other punishment, but consumers CAN punish them.
  • Too late, BTbroadband. I recently ended my 'unlimited' (which is actually limited [custhelp.com]) service with them and moved to a provider who doesn't think its OK to inspect and modify my traffic in order to make advertising revenue.

    As a bonus, I get a truly unlimited connection which is over 3x faster than BT could offer, a one month rolling contract, no cancellation fee, no port blocking and a nice cPanel customer portal, all for about 3GBP more a month. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner.
    • by Canazza (1428553)

      who is this magical ISP? - please tell me!

      • by minasoko (710100)

        who is this magical ISP? - please tell me!

        ADSL24 [adsl24.co.uk]. I use their ADSL2+ LLU service, which I believe is provided over BE's [bethere.co.uk] network.
        Obviously they have a fair usage policy too, it's just that it seems to be fairer.

      • by u38cg (607297)
        I recommend Internet Central - £22.50/m for wires-only ADSL, they max out your connection to whatever it can take, no fair use policy that I've ever hit, they don't play for the IWF, and they have fantastic 24 hour phone support. Been with them three years and not a word of complaint.
    • Care to pass on a name for this ISP?
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

      Bit of guesswork on who it is...

      Well 3x faster than BT would have to be an LLU Operator, because everything else is all BT (openreach) infrastructure & the only difference between ISPs that use that is how good they are at kicking BT up the arse when things go wrong*.

      That limits it in practical terms to Be and Sky (O2 are Be resellers). None of these have a 1 month rolling contract with no cancellation fee. Both of them are IWF encumbered, which is a negative mark against them.

      * In that respect I reco

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by smoker2 (750216)
        Be is part of O2 not the other way around. And you can have a cancellation free contract with Be, you just pay a set up fee. You also get a free fixed IP address, free modem and up to 24 Mbit ADSL2. All for £17.50/month with no usage cap.
    • by minasoko (710100)
      Excuse my replying to my own post, but there is a three month notice period [adsl24.co.uk] on the LLU service I use, not one month as I stated. It's their standard ADSL packages that have a rolling month-to-month contract.
  • by Maddog Batty (112434) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @06:57AM (#28619593) Homepage

    http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/4002-talktalk-follow-suit-on-phorm.html [thinkbroadband.com]

    I hope nobody owns Phorm shares...

  • Citation: http://www.oss.itproportal.com/portal/news/article/2009/7/8/carphone-warehouses-talktalk-wont-roll-out-phorm/ [itproportal.com]

    lameness filter we love you, lameness filter yes it's true, without your constant content cravings, no one'd read my poetic ravings.

  • I recall the Yes, Minister Episode where the minister is stringently against invasion of privacy and tapping, but when his life is on the line he accepts the recommendations to tap telephone lines.
    In short, all BT has to do to implement this is to show the peers and MPs a real-life example of Yes, Minister episode!
    Voila!

  • Kindly phuck off.

    Regards

    BT

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