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UPDATED: Tim Berners-Lee Joins Camp of Phorm Criticism

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
Oh - they won't miss the petition, Mel. I've added a sig to all outgoing e-mails that is on the same lines as your sig here on the forum but, as it's not in public so no moderation needed, includes an unasterisked version of "Ph*ckPhorm"
(Anyone registered that as a domain yet ... do I have three and sixpence in my wallet... ;))

My ISP is not one of the three either. They haven't said "wouldn't touch it with yours" - but they haven't said anything yet. They seem to have given up reading their user forum of late, so probably haven't read my post on there - if there's no response by the end of the week, I'll contact them directly, see what their attitude is.
 

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
NewsreadeR...

I am none too clever on the techy side, and I'm not clear what you mean by "We have now blocked webwise from visiting our domain".
I have, obviously, blocked the webwise cookie in Firefox. I have also blocked webwise.net themselves from my web site using my web host's "IP Deny" thingy - but surely that will only stop a "direct" visit, won't it? If somebody who has been phormed by their ISP visits, won't it just look at the IP address from the ISP?

If you've come up with some sort of script that detects whether a visitor has the Phorm cookie (irrespective of whether it's on or off) and instead of showing them your pages, tells them to sod off, do let me know!
 

NewsreadeR

Regular Member
I am none too clever on the techy side, and I'm not clear what you mean by "We have now blocked webwise from visiting our domain".
In layman's terms, any activity from webwise.com ie spidering or bots or trying to access our domain will now be refused access.

Quite simply we have told our webserver that if any requests whatsoever come from webwise.com they are to be refused, so if they try to see what our content is about, they won't be able to see it.

If everyone on the net who has a website does this, that will hurt them as they won't be able to profile the sites, if I have understood it correctly. If I have misunderstood it, then webwise are still blocked anyway ;)
 

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
Right, that I can follow, I think, but in the case of an infected browser, the request won't come from webwise.net, will it? It'll just seem like a normal visit from, say 62.7.32.2 (a BT customer), won't it?
 

NewsreadeR

Regular Member
If I have understood it properly, Phorm will give the user a cookie. This cookie will report back to Phorm that you have visited x,y and z website.

Now unless webwise have a comprehensive list of every website in the world, they would not know what our or your website is about. They would have to visit the site or see cached records to then profile and target you with ads.

This way Webwise cannot visit our site to see what category of site it is, so therefore rendering their category useless for our profile.

I may be wrong, but we will do everything to protect our users' privacy.
 

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
I may be wrong, but we will do everything to protect our users' privacy.
Or I may be wrong - I usually am!
And, of course, I am all in favour of *anything* that helps protect the privacy of users. As well as the "IP Deny" bit in my control panel, the "robots.txt" file should get rid of them from the spidering point of view, I think - but if there's anything else I should be doing, do shout, all suggestions gratefully received...

(as long as my poor old technodummy brain can understand how to implement the said suggestion. ;))

[Edit - and as long as it doesn't cost more than three and sixpence. ;)]
 

NewsreadeR

Regular Member
the "robots.txt" file should get rid of them from the spidering point of view, I think
Very few Spiders follow this protocol. The bigger sites like Google and MSN Yahoo etc definitely do, but if you were a bot for a low down scum like entity, would you follow protocol? A robots.txt is a request for not spidering, however it does not block or indeed stop anything, unless the machine reading it abides by the voluntary code.

Blocking sites and IP's will work if everyone does it. And if absolutely necessary, then ISP's could be blocked as well in extreme circumstances, thus rendering the internet useless for those ISP's customers on sites that they may wish to visit.

Although blocking an ISP is a little extreme.
 

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
A little extreme, maybe - but, as I commented in another post, that's what I intend doing - I'm trying to compile a list of IP addresses used by the three ISPs concerned (it's slow going!) and will then block them.

I don't suppose it will be perfect, and it won't block anyone using a proxy server, but it's the best I can think of. Probably not a good idea for any sort of commercial site, or anything where you actually *want* a lot of visitors - but mine's mostly for family and friends, so I'm not too worried about losing a few people (two, I think) who decide to stay with their current ISP instead of changing to somebody decent.
 

carrot63

Pro Member
Although blocking an ISP is a little extreme.
I've been trying to work out what to do about this too, and also thought about blocking. However I reckon it might be a better idea to put the cat among the pigeons and flag up a message only to users of those networks; something prominent on the page near the header saying something like;

"WARNING. Are you aware that (BT/CPW/Virgin) your ISP are selling your browsing habits to a 3rd party for the purposes of targeted advertising?"

With a few links to the various sites covering this story in detail. Also add a page with "terms of use" expicitly stating Phorm are expressly forbidden from intercepting the pages, in case the 'required webmaster consent' issue does turn out to be true.

It hopefully has the advantage of bringing the story to the attention of the non tech site reading public without denying people access.

Many such people might otherwise pass the story by without notice or with only the BT "free stuff" message getting through, and it might stir up a few awkward questions for the ISPs tech support if I get lucky. Getting the IP ranges for BT etc shouldn't be too hard.
 

KDS

ULTIMATE Member
I’m not sure how it work but I believe it works like the same way proxy servers works, where all users activities are logged to their servers and analysed if they have the opt-in cookie they will get served by their add server if not they don’t get served. So blocking webwise on user pcs and web servers not gone do any good.
 

Mel

ULTIMATE Member
Yeah, I'd think it would spoof the Phormed end-user's normal IP address, so it would be invisible to the webserver.

If Phorm doesn't rely solely on redirects and other TCP stream hacks, but also injects code into the webpage then it should be possible to detect the changes using javascript and redirect the end user to a warning page and the server could then block his IP address.

Basically the same sort of approach as http://www.doxdesk.com/parasite/ IE parasite detection script for IE.

Maybe even something simple like a count of the iframes might work:shrug:
 

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
My ISP is not one of the three either. They haven't said "wouldn't touch it with yours" - but they haven't said anything yet. They seem to have given up reading their user forum of late, so probably haven't read my post on there - if there's no response by the end of the week, I'll contact them directly, see what their attitude is.
And, of course, old muddle-head forgot and only got around to it last night. :eek:

Anyway, from the response received this morning, I'm glad to be able to say that Namesco do not use Phorm and have no intention of doing so. :)
 
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