Directions to the Barbican
July 16th - Protest at the BT AGM, Barbican Centre, London
On July 16th 2008 there will be a protest rally at The Barbican Centre (The Barbican Theatre) in London. The purpose of the event is to protest against plans by BT Group PLC, Virgin Media and Car Phone Warehouse to deploy intrusive technology across their broadband networks for the purpose of profiling the behaviour of their customers which is then sold to Phorm Inc. (formerly 121Media) and used for their Open Internet Exchange (OIX) service.
You can read updates regarding the event on the following web page:
How it works?
Phorm Inc have signed exclusive contracts with Virgin Media, BT Group PLC and Car Phone Warehouse (TalkTalk) to install Layer 7 network switches within the core broadband networks in the UK. Without getting too technical the system (branded as WebWise) intercepts every single web based communication you initiate in your browser unless they are encrypted - which most are not.
It then inserts software cookies on to your computer for the purpose of gathering behavioural statistics based on the web pages you view; it also makes a copy of every web page you view as it is being sent to your PC and builds a list of key words based on the contents of the web page.
This type of behavioural profiling is very rich data and can be used to determine many things about your life and who you are such as:
1. Topics you are interested in
2. Your Political Opinions
3. Your Health
4. Your Financial Status
5. Your Sexual Preferences
6. Where you live
7. When you are or are not at home
8. Your Investments
9. Who you communicate with
10. What you type on web forums or social network sites
This type of information is very useful for advertising companies as it allows them to target you with commercial advertising when you visit web pages. However this type of information is also protected by many laws within the UK and EU because it is classed as personal information which most people believe should be private. For example, do you really want advertising companies to know what investments you have or the contents of your emails?
You can read more about the issues surrounding this technology by reading the other pages on this web site and following some of the links in the right hand margin.
Date : 16th July 2008
Time : 10:00am - 5:00pm
Place: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London. EC2Y 8DS
We will be gathering outside the main entrance for the majority of the day. The best route to the main entrance is from the barbican tube, but go right to the end of Beech street and turn right as per the map.
The purpose of the protest is twofold:
1. To raise public awareness on the issues surrounding behavioural advertising and threats it places on privacy.
2. To present the City of London Police with a case file based on covert trials carried out by BT and Phorm (then 121Media) in 2006/2007.
The Covert Trials
In 2006 and 2007 Bt and Phorm (then 121Media) carried out two covert trials of this technology (called PageSense in 2006, ProxySense in 2007 and WebWise in the present) which means they did not seek the consent of their customers. These trials constituted criminal and civil offenses under various laws. You can read more information about this on the following web page:
And for the legally minded, you can read my legal analysis of the covert trials here (PDF):