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It seems Virgin Media boss Neil Berkett could be gearing up to take the same stance on its deal with Phorm as Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone.

Berkett this morning responded to a customer email asking if he planned to require customers to explicitly opt-in to the ad targeting network with: “I am reviewing this again this evening.”

Carphone Warehouse has stated that its 2.6 million broadband subscribers will be asked if they want to opt-in, and that an opt-out cookie won’t be necessary to avoid profiling. The firm is working on a new implementation of the Phorm system that ensures data is never intercepted and mirrored to the profiler server.

Phorm has said data from opted-out customers would be completely ignored by the profiler under the normal deployment, which is administered by the ISP, but the fears of many are not allayed by such guarantees. BT is yet to answer our question about why mirroring but not profiling customer browsing does not constitute an interception under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.

It seems that the big british ISPs are running into the same problem that Comcast is having with the FCC: once you lie about what you’re doing to your subscribers, all of your subsequent claims that the thing you lied about is really not a big deal tend to fall flat.


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