Advanced Television

BT: more Phorm tests

July 18, 2008

BT will begin further trials in the next few weeks of a controversial advertising technology that it hopes will give it a slice of the lucrative online advertising market. The group is one of three UK internet service providers which have conducted trials of technology developed by Phorm, an Aim-listed company, which tracks the web-surfing habits of its internet users to enable it to target advertising more tightly.Carphone Warehouse's Talk Talk and Virgin Media have also agreed to evaluate the service but are yet to run trials. If successful, Phorm is expected to sign deals with other internet service providers around the world. However it has proved controversial, with internet bloggers and privacy activists labelling the technology as "spyware". Gavin Patterson, head of BT Retail, told the group's annual general meeting that customers would again have to opt-in for the service.Critics have alleged that BT conducted trials without customers' consent in 2006-07. Patterson said the group had conducted technical trials in that period but had taken legal advice to rule whether it was both ethical and legal. He added that the Information Commissioner had also cleared the technology of breaching data laws

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