• It's funny how times change

    Over the past few days, I've been going over the old Benscomputer.no-ip.org archives and have republished some of the content.

    What's struck me as funny though, is how times change, but a lot of the issues remain exactly the same.

  • Republished: A bit of info on the Phorm Debacle

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 5 Mar 2008

    The tech news pages are alive with the news that BT, Virgin Media and Talk Talk are planning to sell its customers browsing information to a company named Phorm.

    BT claims that the new 'service' Webwise is intended to improve the browsing safety of its users. It includes a list of Phishing sites, and warns users when they attempt to connect to one of the listed sites. Newsflash for you guys: FIREFOX ALREADY HAS THIS FUNCTIONALITY. Its nothing new, and of no real benefit if you already have a browser that does this. It's also not a lot of use if you are wary of emails from institutions that ask for personal details.
    Unfortunately WebWise also sends your browsing history (and a copy of everything you send/download on unsecured connections) to Phorms servers where they will profile it and effectively mangle some of the pages you download to include adverts that they believe may interest you.
    This mangling will only happen on pages that run adverts from Phorm, not every site will be effected.

  • Republished: A look at BT's Trial Documentation

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 14 June 2009

    Now, it can hardly have escaped anyones attention that BT ran some very questionable trials of Phorms system. It's been on BBC News, as well as many other sources, including the Governments refusal to take action. This has led to the EU intervening on our behalf, not that much has happened from that so far.

    But most of the media has focused on the RIPA element of it, that is to say the Illegal Interception of the users traffic. Having read the leaked test documentation (Have a look on WikiLeaks), I'd say that there's another element to it that appears to have gone largely unnoticed.

    The original trial involved injecting Javascript into each and every page the user visited (with some unfortunate results on forums), and based on the test documentation, even users who were opted out (not that they were given the opportunity in the trials) would find JavaScript being run on every page.

  • Republished: A quick look at Webwise Discover

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 06 June 2009

    Well, as I posted in the News links yesterday, Phorm have launched a service called Webwise Discover. It appears that this is largely a front end, allowing the user to further benefit from having Phorm follow you around the internet.

    But lets take a quick look at it;

  • Republished: A suggestion for BT

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org on 27 October 2008

    Given that BT claim to be creating a network level opt-out from Phorm, I thought I would give them a bit of a helping hand. They claim that although it will be implemented, it's unlikely to be in place by the time the WebWise system is rolled out.

  • Republished: BT Finally See Sense

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 18 March 2008

    There have been murmers online that BT are planning to do the same as Carphone Wharehouse and make a few changes to the Phorm system, by creating a virtual wall between people who haven't opted in and the profiling hardware. They also intend to do away with the cookie 'opt-out' and create something more in line with the law. I sent BT an email a few days ago asking a variety of questions about the system (I'm on BT and don't like the system one bit) and got the following as a reply

  • Republished: No Phoul Play Involved - Good Phorm by BadPhorm

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 5 May 2009

    A question posed on the StopPhoulPlay blog;

    The more interesting question is this: if the Home Office and the many expert legal advisors we consulted are wrong, how is it that a system such as GMail - which scans emails from non-account holders without their consent to GMail users - is not also an ?interception? and as such not also a prime target of their campaign?

    Unlike Gmail?s webmail service, which is perfectly legal, Phorm?s system is fully anonymous, does not look at email and does not store personal information such as IP addresses. Surely if FIPR/ORG is genuinely interested in a fair debate and the application of law as it sees it, the question merits a response?

  • Republished: Nobody wants Phorm checking their data

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org on 12 March 2008

    The ISP's may not believe that no-one wants Phorm intercepting their traffic, but Phorms share price certainly seems to have taken a hit since the plans were made public. Someone out there certainly recognises that most people are not going to want this so-called service

    Perhaps this may help motivate the ISP's to fulfil their customers needs rather than chasing the elusive golden penny.

    On the Plus Side, Carphone Warehouse are looking a tbuilding a 'wall' between customers that opt-out and Phorms hardware, so this is a step in the right direction at least. The others may soon follow suit, though comments on the net suggest that these three ISP's have already lost quite a good portion of customers.
    BT are pushing their luck with me, I've sent them two e-mails about this, had one reply that was completely irrelevant to my original communication, and no reply since. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt for now, as there are presumably internal talks happening about the Phorm issue, but they only have so long before I decide to change ISP.

  • Republished: NoIP.com rejects Phorm

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 26 March 2009

    I've been having a conversation with NoIP.com recently, they provide the DNS Re-Direct for Benscomputer.no-ip.org, about Phorm and the Webwise system. Although I completely disagree with Phorms systems using Opt-Out, I also do not want to help them monetize their customers browsing behaviour.

    So, some time back I sent an e-mail to their website exclusion list, stating that I did not give permission for them to scrape my site for their own benefit. I received a reply effectively stating that as the WHOIS query for the domain (no-ip.org) does not match my details, the request was being viewed as unauthorised and would not be actioned.

  • Republished: Phorm launches the InPhorm Newsletter

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 29 June 2009

    In a casual spare moment I clicked onto Phorms Website, once I got past the vomit evoking mess that is the Webwise Discover advert page, I noticed that there has been a bit of a shake-up since I last visited.

  • Republished: Phorm your own opinions

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org on 06 October 2008

    It has been revealed today that BT consider it the account holders responsibility to explain about Webwise to all users of their connection. BT have revealed in their revised terms and conditions that they can accept no responsibility if users of a connection are not kept informed about Webwise by the account holder.

  • Republished: Phorm, PR Master or PR Disaster

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 14 June 2009

    About a week ago, I wrote about Webwise Discover, Phorm's new 'service'. At the time I questioned just how Phorm's survey managed to find such a large proportion of responders interested in their service, to me it seemed that these users had not been fully informed before being asked.

    It now appears that I was correct. Over at the PC-Pro Forums (thanks for the tip Peter) there's a post by a user called Jonaba, who claims he was one of the respondents. He claims that at no point was Deep Packet Inspection mentioned, and in fact the actual reason for the technology was that well hidden that it took him a couple of minutes to even clock onto what the survey was about.

  • Republished: Phorm's History

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org on 13 August 2008

    I've noticed that the number of links on the main page to stories about Phorm is quite large, so to make the stories a more useful resource I decided to create an index with all Phorms links on it.
    The newest entries can be found at the bottom of the page, and all links will open in a new window/tab.

  • Republished: Phorming Relationships

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 06 Jun 2008

    Most people have heard of 121Media, although they may not be able to place where they heard the name. Well 121Media are back as Phorm, and so far they've created quite a stir. They are pushing a new style of Targeted Advertising whereby they place some hardware between your computer and the Internet and analyse the pages you access in order to serve you with 'more relevant' advertising. Unlike many other online advertisers, Phorm will not just base adverts on partner pages that you have previously accessed, but will actively analyze the contents of almost every page you view.

  • Republished: Second time I've contacted BT about Phorm

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org on 8 Mar 2008

    Well, I've just emailed BT for the second time about this Phorm debacle. I contacted them the first time outlinign my concerns, and included a Data Protection Act notice effectively barring them from passing my details outside the EU, to any third parties (except where required by law) or using any data other than that required to fulfil their contractual responsibilities.

    Got a really, really crap reply telling me what BT WebWise is, how it's fantastic for the consumer etc. but not addressing a single one of my complaints or concerns, not aknowledging the DPA Notice. Simply put someone read the first line, typed WebWise into the PC and copy n pasted from the script without reading the rest of the letter.

  • Republished: The Best Bits of StopPhoulPlay

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 20 May 2009

    I was having another curious read of Phorms PR blog -StopPhoulPlay - and there were a couple of things I noticed. If I'm honest, they made me laugh. There's nothing more you can do when reading such trash.

    OK, so lets get started. In this post Phorm talk about the number 10 petition. Now personally, I believe most of these petitions are a waste of time, I've yet to hear of a success story. But, Phorm go one step further,

    In the United Kingdom, the tradition of raising a popular petition against a perceived miscarriage of justice has a long and distinguished pedigree, but not one that the privacy pirates felt any hesitation about desecrating.

  • Republished: UK Government fails to respond to the EU about Phorm

    Originally published on Benscomputer.no-ip.org 13 Aug 2008

    Below is a copy of a letter the EU sent to the UK Government at the end of june. As reported on The Register, the Government has yet to respond. The letter was sent at the end of June, which means that the deadline has been missed. Apparantly the Government would not comment on exactly why they had missed the deadline, and it's not entirely clear what happens next. Potentially our government could find itself having to defend it's actions (or more to the point, lack of action) in Luxembourg.