Phorm trial to begin “imminently”

BT is to begin its 10,000 user trial with Phorm’s advertising system “imminently” reports The Independent.

Both companies have claimed in the past that a large-scale test will take place, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has given it the go-ahead as long as it remains on an opt-in basis.

“BT plans to initiate a further trial in the near future involving some 10,000 broadband users,” said a recent statement from the ICO. “This will involve the full deployment of Phorm’s technology. We are assured that they will be completely open with customers and that only those who indicate that they are happy to receive ads based on analysis of the websites they visit will be included.”

Two previous secret trials have been undertaken between the companies, one in October 2006 and another in June 2007. Despite complaints from privacy advocates and a handful of affected customers, the ICO has said that it will not be taking any further action.

BT denies the rumours of an imminent trial, claiming that there is no planned date for the test, but said that customers would be sent invites beforehand.

Phorm similarly claims that it has no current plans, and that it would be given only 24 hours’ notice to begin a test with no prior warning, as it was “BT’s trial”.

However, Phorm confirmed earlier this month that it is working with BT on a large-scale test.

“We’re moving into the testing phase. BT’s the most advanced – you’re more likely to see it come to deployment than anyone else,” Phorm spokesman Alex Laity told PC Pro. “BT has always been committed to doing this. The other two [Virgin Media and TalkTalk] are as well. There’s commitment from all three.”

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