TheRegister is reporting that BT finally back away from deploying Phorm.
Personally, I think Phorm as a technology is too intrusive for my liking, I think if the technology on this line does not violate any law, then the law should be amended so that it will be a violation.
The manner in which BT had chosen to run the Phrom trial, especially with regards to getting consent is extremely troubling for me. It boils down to the trial is too complicated to explain to you and I so they would simply not bother to ask for permission. Besides insulting yours and my intelligent, i.e. BT’s potential customers, I feel that if a technology is too difficult to explain, then it should not be trialed at all. What surprised me is OfCom agreed with BT. Thank god those bureaucrats in EC disagree and threaten to prosecute it. It is so bad for BT that regardless whether it is right or wrong to not seek prior consent, it left a bad taste and is proof to me that BT only pay lips services to customer privacy.
I can understand why BT had insisted it will go along with Phrom roll out when the technology behinds it blown up on its face in the public domain. It wants to “save face”. It is unlikely that BT thinks that the benefit it gets from installing Phrom malware outweigh the cost of the further PR disaster.
Let’s face it, with all the bad publicity, it does not matter whether what BT did/do is legal or not, or does it matter whether it is ethical or not or for that matter, what moral rights BT might have to implement Phorm. The damage is done. The way to contain the damage is not to deploy the technology at all. All other moves will quit simply, damage the company.
Hence BT make the right decision to back away from Phorm. The only question is, why did it took so long?
If you asked me, I think a decision had been quietly made to ditch the technology when the whole thing blow up on BT’s face. So why didn’t it announce this then to calm down the storm? As I said, it wants to save face. I actually disagree with it on the grounds that abandoning the malware at the time, and apologize instead would greatly smooth the public’s concern. However, this means losing face. Something one’s pride make it very difficult to do.
Therefore, they took the other route available: Let the storm pass, and when the sea is calm, ditch the malware. Hopefully no one’s watching…. except TheRegister who had been watching it like a hawk over the issue. But then again being caught by TheRegister is something that cannot be avoided altogether.
Luckily for them, the economy downturn gives them plenty of excuses to back down.
Is Phrom dead? I think so. Other ISPs is very much less likely to adopt Phorm now that BT, its major backer, backs down.