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Berners-Lee Rejects Tracking 155

kernowyon writes "The BBC has an interview with Sir Tim Berners-Lee during his visit to the UK on their website currently. In it, he voices his concern about the practice of tracking activity on the internet — with particular reference to Phorm. Quotes Sir Tim with regard to his data — "It's mine — you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me.""
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Berners-Lee Rejects Tracking

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  • It's all nicey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:41AM (#22772632) Homepage Journal
    ...but will it have any effect on powers that are in charge? As for influence on us, most users who know who he is already share this position.
  • Negotiation done! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGreek ( 2403 ) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:46AM (#22772682)

    "It's mine -- you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me."
    "This content is mine; you can't have it. If you want to access it for free, you have to let me track your activity."
  • by apathy maybe ( 922212 ) on Monday March 17, 2008 @09:48AM (#22772688) Homepage Journal
    I agree with ol' Tim. An ISP's job is to provide a pipe for the Internet, charge for usage, and stay out of the way. That's all.

    Unless I want them to do something else. And tracking me is not something I want. That's right, spam filtering is something else that I want to be "opt-in", and content filtering, and every other bloody sort of filtering.

    Actually though, I would be happy if they paid me, but for one week at a time. For that one week I'll happily browse Goatse, Goatshe, Tubgirl etc. (images downloaded, but not displayed, I'm not that crazy). Any real browsing I'll do via my own encrypted proxy set-up at my webhost.

    Basically, I'm not the target audience for tracking.

    Anyway, it's great to see this sort of issue on mainstream media. Now just to get the 'normal' people to read it...
  • by Sczi ( 1030288 ) on Monday March 17, 2008 @10:54AM (#22773256)
    I think this is getting OT a bit.. as I understand it Phorm runs at the ISP level and then sells the data to content providers. I, for one, am getting really sick of this trend of uppity ISP's trying to get in the racket of playing monkey in the middle with our data. They get their monthly check simply for being a conduit. How about requiring the ISP's in question to call every one of their subscribers and say "we just wanted to inform you that we are going to sniff all of your traffic and sell the data to advertises" and see what kind of response they get.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday March 17, 2008 @11:15AM (#22773480)
    Are teh user or you party to the ad contract? If not (which is probably the case unless the user agrees to something), then it's not your problem.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday March 17, 2008 @12:08PM (#22774010) Journal
    I think you will be fine as long as you follow robots.txt. Personally I think disallowing cross-site cookies is the best way to handle it, though.
  • by thechanklybore ( 1091971 ) * on Monday March 17, 2008 @01:48PM (#22775192) Homepage
    Again, like the other respondent, I question your understanding of your own system if you believe that a simple cookie is a valid "Opt-Out" from Phorm. Maybe you could enlighten all of us Slashdotters as to how redirecting all of the traffic from a customers
    internet connection to the Phorm network even when the "opt-out" cookie is set is opting out?

    "By contrast, ad targeting from other major Internet companies means that potentially identifiable personal data is stored for over 12 months before it is even anonymised. Also, because these companies reach nearly all UK Internet users, consumers effectively have no real choice about being targeted in this way.

    This is completely disingenuous. Whatever Google et al do with my data *I* have chosen to go to their site, *I* have chosen to perform a search. The Phorm method of gathering data is not comparable. If all of a person's HTTP traffic was routed through Google you may find a few people disagreeing with this too!
  • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Monday March 17, 2008 @08:33PM (#22779062) Homepage Journal

    I question your understanding of your own system....

    I question their understanding of what they're doing as well, based on the fact that they could send a marketing droid to debate geeks. On Slashdot.

    The only possible outcome to this kind of a conversation is for the marketer to be positively buried in technical rebuttals which he is neither equipped nor allowed to respond to. $MARKETER will receive not a little disdain in the process, and if he's not careful, will become defensive.

    The first sign of back-tracking (a perfectly acceptable way to concede a point in many business meetings) will be turned into a rout when $MARKETER finds himself faced with chapter and verse of every fallacious or inaccurate statement he's made anywhere on the web, ever. Heaven help him if he's on MySpace or Facebook.

    In short, it would be more merciful to the poor droid for us to send him straight to tubgirl right now, rather than leaving him with the false impression that there's any hope at all of emerging intact from this foray into the world of Slashdot. 8^)

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers