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BT Confesses To 2007 Phorm Trial & Develops Non-Cookie Method
By: MarkJ - 16 March, 2008 (8:52 AM)

BT staffer Adam Liversage has quietly confirmed that the operator conducted a "very small scale technical test" (secret trial) of Phorm's data pimping system during 2007 (original news). Liversage issued the following statement to the operatorís community forums:

BT can confirm that we conducted a very small scale technical test of a prototype advertising platform on one exchange in June 2007. The test was specifically conducted to evaluate the functional and technical performance of the platform. Absolutely no personally identifiable information was processed, stored or disclosed during this trial. As with all Service Providers, it is important for BT to ensure that, before any potential new technologies are employed, they are robust and fit for purpose.

It's understood that the trial was tried on a live exchange first with no prior customer consultation because those that witnessed the activity on their connection and enquired were mislead by BT into thinking, ironically, that it was a DNS hijacker.

Indeed we'd question how successful such a trial could be without any information being "processed [AND OR] stored". That would be a bit like developing an operating system and never running it, although sometimes we think Microsoft probably do that too. Legal action by the affected BT customers has not been ruled out.

However, it's not all bad news because Liversage also revealed that BT were testing an opt-out solution that would remove the need for browser based cookies altogether. Sadly there's still no sign of a TalkTalk style opt-in method at launch:

Customers who have chosen not to participate in our technical trial will not have their browsing information mirrored or profiled, and no information will go to the BT managed profiler. No information is gathered, and therefore no information is forwarded to Phorm. Customers who opt out will not come into contact with any Phorm-managed equipment.

BT can also confirm that in parallel with the trial, we are already developing an opt-out solution that would remove the need for opt-out cookies altogether.

Further details, including links to both BT Community Forum posts, can be found in Mel's topic on our forum - here.

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