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PlusNet Customer Mistakenly Invited to BTs Webwise Phorm Trial

Posted: 11th Nov, 2008 By: MarkJ
One of PlusNet's broadband customers was left feeling a bit surprised yesterday morning after he was greeted by a new webpage containing an invitation to BT's controversial Webwise (Phorm) trial. The message stated: "As a BT Total Broadband customer, you can try an exciting new service called BT Webwise."

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. Needless to say that BT's current trial is not supposed to be accessible by other ISPs.

PlusNet itself is owned by BT, though it is still a largely independent operation. The ISP has since issued the following statement to Thinkbroadband, blaming the issue on a configuration error:

"At 11.25 [ON MONDAY] morning we were notified by one of our customers that they had been presented with a screen inviting them to take part in the BT Webwise trial. This customer is one of around 250 Plusnet customers taking part in another trial, unconnected to BT Webwise, using the BT Retail network (RIN); all other customers use Plusnet's own network. Plusnet does not use BT Webwise on its network, has not trialled the service and has no plans to do so at this time.

Plusnet customers using RIN should not normally see the BT Webwise invitation screen or be able to join the BT Webwise trial. This case is believed to have been due to a configuration error which we acted on as soon as we were made aware of it. BT and Plusnet have confirmed that no further Plusnet customers should be presented with the BT Webwise screen, and Plusnet customers' web traffic will not form any part of BT Webwise trial.

The original concern was raised in a post via PlusNet's community forum, which can be read HERE. Phorm is a thorny subject for some and even a small incident like this is bound to spark off a few concerned topics.
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