Phorm mulls incentives for ad targeting wiretaps
Opt in, save a starving African
Phorm is considering tugging on ISP subscribers' heartstrings by offering to donate to charities if they opt to let it profile their internet use for advertisers.
The idea is one of more than a dozen possible incentives being punted in a survey running on the market research site Toluna.com. The questionnaire probes attitudes to "Webwise", the consumer-friendly branding it's planned Phorm's system will carry once switched on.
Other carrots suggested include:
- An upgrade to a faster broadband package at no extra cost
- £1 off monthly broadband bills
- £1 cashback per month
- A cut of advertising revenues
- A free premium technical support line
- Free music download vouchers
- Free anti-virus software
- Parental content controls
The current incentive planned by BT and Phorm for Webwise - checking URLs against a white label anti-phishing list - is also offered by the survey. Toluna users are also questioned about a potential feature called "Webwise Local" that would allow advertisers to target internet users based on their location.
A Phorm spokesman confirmed it was carrying out research into how it might improve its products. "It doesn't necessarily mean that we will introduce any particular product or feature," he said. "We're always looking at how we can improve things."
The Information Commissioner's Office said in April that to obey the law Phorm will have to get a positive opt-in from surfers. Analysts estimated BT's cut of targeted advertising revenues could hit £85m annually, so there's plenty of motivation and opportunity for ISPs to add extra inducements to click the "OK" button.
However implementation of any new consumer-facing Webwise features is likely to be a long way off. Currently Phorm's system remains mired in legal controversy over two secret trials, and technical problems which have delayed a third test with BT subscribers for more than six months. ®
can i get it up front?
here i can tell them what i use
facebook/slashdot/register/inquirer/uknova/thebox/bbc news/met office weather/flickr/youtube/planetsuzy/random c# queries
can i have 60 years of benefits up front now please?
btw are they interested as i run adlock?
Don't want these "people" watching you? Easy - just leave your ISP and join one that don't soil itself with this group of spies. You can guarantee that there will be plenty of ISP's who won't want to take Phorm's money, and if enough folks leave the ISPs that do then maybe they'll get the message - don't spy on your customers. Heck, if there's enough talk on the "blogosphere" then maybe even the threat of getting customers leave would be enough to say "no thanks" to Phorm.
Second tack, if you do get Phorm'd then just don't buy _anything_ from any advert presented. Better still, try and avoid the companies presented. Then similarly maybe the message that Phorm=lost-sales will kill this vile idea.
I'm with VirginMedia (don't laugh!) at the moment, and if they introduce this as an Opt-In service then I'll think about moving my broadband elsewhere. On the other hand if they impose it unilaterally then I'll be cancelling all my contracts with them immediately and spreading the word for others to do the same.
I'm absolutely convinced that Phorm without an explicit Opt-In from the "victim" is tantamount to an illegal wiretap. As to the latest idea (given in the article) all I can say is that tying a pretty ribbon around a "dog egg" ain't likely to make me want one! :P
Now for ALL of those incentives
it could almost make sense.
Still, I'm not sure they'd do it in a wholly ethical manner- if you donated to some starving african kid they'd probably bug him to see which brands of food aid he preferred- then send him a load of Spam...
And free premium tech support on a service you're never supposed to see?! Or is that tech support from BT- which will consist of "awrite pal, mah internet's nae workin'" "See the box with the flashing lights? Turn it off and on again. Thanks for calling. Goodbye". And a quick note- it's not free, you're still paying for it in data.
Just a quick thought- couldn't the mighty Microsoft roll out an "Automatic Update" to any suitably configured computers / servers that mandated the use of HTTPS? Immediately, about 95% of the western worlds home computers and a good chunk of their servers would be safe from DPI.
Okay, the Linux, Mac and other marginal communities would be left out of this great security feature but MS would be loved by privacy supporters and it's not like the Linux community (or Apple's programmers) lacks the technical expertise to do something similar.