BT In Trouble Over Secret Behavioral Ad Tests

Legality and ethics called into question

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Did BT illegally test a new online advertising system on their customers without consent? That’s currently what British prosecutors are trying to determine.

BT GroupAll the fuss stems from a document that was leaked back in June which showed that BT had held a two-week test, which involved 18,000 subscribers back in September and October 2006 without them knowing.

The prosecutors are looking into Webwise, an advertising system from the company Phorm, which is a monitoring service that drops a cookie in order to track an individuals Internet activity.

The cookie contains a simple user ID, which is tied to certain categories such as “laptops” or “cellphones”, using this information Phorm is able to display “relevant” advertisements.

It’s unknown at this time if the secret trials by BT violated the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000, which makes it illegal to monitor the communication between two parties without consent.

Even if it’s found that BT did nothing legally wrong, what about ethically?


BT In Trouble Over Secret Behavioral Ad Tests
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  • Guest

    This sort of thing should be illegal.

    • https://nodpi.org AdelleF

      BT Webwise IS illegal on sooo many sides. Not only did BT and Phorm carry out the illegal trials in 2006 and 2007 they are conducting a trial now with 10,000 people, though there is little evidence that more than a handful of people have been invited, all of which have decided not to trial the system, AFAIK.

      The system also infringes copyright of website owners and content creators with the way it takes a copy of every webpage a user visits in order to profile them. It is putting smaller online businesses and presences at risk but using their content to promote advertisements for the larger players.

      BT and Phorn have constantly lied to people, they are clutching at straws as far as its legailty go; which is hard for them as the system is illegal. A week ago BT decided to delete all of the forum posts and threads on their BT Beta forums in a fool hardy feat to try and silence the UK citizens, only to become quite a laughing stock with the UK media. Its well worth a quick google to find out more.

      If you have a website outside the UK it would be well worth while for you to complain to your local MP, the traiding standards agencies in your country, complain to BT themselves, complain to the copyright agencies in your country as BT Webwise will infringe the copyright of YOUR websites regardless of what country you reside. Would you like your website to be used to profile a user so ads can be targeted geared at other businesses? If you don’t like this complain!

    • Guest

      Your right, it’s absolutely insane to think that this type of thing goes on.
      BT think the are above the law.

  • http://www.trainingreiki.com Reiki

    Makes me wonder how many times this has happened to myself and had no clue..

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