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BT Updates Webwise (Phorm) FAQ - Retains Cookie Opt-Out

Posted: 04th Apr, 2008 By: MarkJ
One of our readers, Mel, has spotted an update to BT's Webwise (Phorm) FAQ, which sadly shows that the operator has decided to continue with its 'cookie' based opt-out method. Cookies are small information (text) files saved on your computer by a web browser and store basic details about your interaction with a website. For example, on most websites cookies allow users re-visiting a site to stay logged into the discussion forum without having to re-type the details each time:

18. Does remaining opted out depend on the continued presence of an opt-out cookie on the user computer? What happens if I delete the cookie?

There are two ways you can opt out of BT Webwise:

1. visit www.bt.com/webwise and click Switch Off. Note that this will be activated only after the service is launched. This standard opt-out method does depend on a cookie remaining on your machine indicating that you have opted out. If you delete your cookies regularly, you will have to opt-out again each time you start a browsing session.

2. if you delete cookies regularly and want to remain opted out, you can set all your browsers to block cookies from the domain www.webwise.net. When you block this domain, the service will opt you out permanently. You can use this option now and will then be opted out of BT Webwise.

19. Isn't that a pain in the neck?

We provide the facility to block cookies permanently from BT Webwise so if you want to opt out permanently you can do so through a one-time only activity, by setting your browser to block cookies from the domain www.webwise.net. When you block this domain, the service will not put a cookie on your machine and you will not be asked to opt in or out again.

Though blocking the Webwise domain in your browser is feasible, it strikes us as quite a rough and ready "solution" that most users would rather not have to deal with, especially those that don't understand computers very well. Likewise there are many different types of operating systems and browsers, some of which do not give you the ability to block domains!

By contrast, cookies are usually different for every browser and many are often cleared every few days by a pre-set value, indeed cookies frequently become corrupted and auto-clear themselves. The fallibility of cookies is part of the reason why TalkTalk plans to adopt a more respectable server level solution for its Phorm implementation. More information can be found in Mel’s post on our forums here.
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