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TalkTalk (Carphone) ISP Makes Phorm Opt-In Only
By: MarkJ - 11 March, 2008 (8:22 AM)

UK ISP TalkTalk (The Carphone Warehouse) has issued a statement in response to customer concerns surrounding its involvement with Phorm, which anonymously tracks the websites you visit to help develop targeted advertising campaigns.

The provider was keen to stress that its implementation will be "opt-in" only and won't use the same method as BT, meaning those that don't "opt-in" will have their traffic split, avoiding contact with a WebWise (Phorm) server:

We are committed to running a trial with Phorm, but with two very important conditions.
  • Firstly, it will be an Opt In, not an Opt Out service. This means you will have to proactively choose to be a participant of the service.

  • Secondly, those who have not chosen to participate will not ever come into contact with any Phorm equipment hosted within Talktalk. Details of who has membership of Phorm will be maintained in our network, and only those who have chosen to participate will be passed to Phorm.
We have been reassured by the advice of the Lawyers, Accountants and Home Office that the Phorm project is not an invasion of privacy, and that in fact the protection and integrity of anonymity provided is superior to that which we all experience from using existing Portals and Search Engines on the internet.

Webwise, does offer real protection against fraudulent phishing sites, which are an increasing problem to our customers, particularly those who are new to broadband.

By making the service Opt In, we feel the onus remains firmly with Phorm to make the service useful and compelling enough that subscribers will choose to join it. If it fails to do this, it will itself fail.

Precise technical details of how TalkTalk will do this are unclear, although the option they are looking at does not appear to be browser specific (no cookies will be used) but will be based on a variable which is stored on TalkTalks systems.

The ISP also clarified that it does not presently have any Phorm equipment in its network and has never run any trials.

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