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BT Culls Discussion of Phorm from its Forums

Posted: 19th Nov, 2008 By: MarkJ
BT has removed a significant number of major Phorm (BT WebWise) related topics from its customer focused beta discussion forum (bt beta forum), including some from as far back as February this year and one that was nearly 200 pages long.

Phorm works with ISPs to monitor what websites you visit for use in targeted advertising campaigns, though its methods have raised many legal and privacy concerns. BT in particular has faced criticism for its involvement, not least for their secret trials that took place without customer consent.

Sadly the situation came to a head yesterday when BT's Support Community Coordinator, Mark Wilkin, posted the following update on its 'Announcements' section to explain what the operator had done:

Support Forum Moderation Policy Update
Posted: Nov 18, 2008 11:11 AM Reply

Our broadband support forums are designed to be a place where customers can discuss technical support issues and offer solutions. To ensure that the forums remain constructive we're tightening up our moderation policies and will be deleting threads that don't provide constructive support. For example, we have removed a number of forum discussions about BT Webwise.

If you do want to find out more about BT Webwise, we provide lots of information and the facility to contact us at http://www.bt.com/webwise .

We hope you'll continue to enjoy being part of the support community.

However one quick look at the index of BT's forums shows that there are many sections that extend beyond technical support discussion. For example the 'Online Security' forum states: "For help with BT's online security products and everything else related to online security."

Still, rather than move such topics to a more appropriate location BT appears to have removed them entirely. Naturally that has lead to many customers accusing the operator of merely seeking to silence obvious criticism of the service and thus hinder consumer awareness.

Customers are now concerned that the operator may have begun a campaign of aggressive censorship against discussion of Phorm, potentially throwing transparency and engagement clean out of the window. The move is unlikely to foster greater trust in BT’s implementation of Phorm.
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