Users concerned over privacy issues

February 29, 2016

Profiling the audience for television programs has occurred for years with advertisers eager to get air time for their adverts when their market audience is viewing. The internet altered that and very frequently advertisers know very little about advert viewing. Phorm, the people behind a new advertising agency are aiming to amend this by tracking the kinds of websites people visit and presenting what its advertisers feel are more pertinent adverts.

The Register is just one site that has news on the launch of the Open Internet Exchange (OIX) deal with BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse. The OIX works by following peoples browsing behavior and then attempting to dish up more relevant advertising content to people.

The privacy issues revolve around subjects like how opting out of the service will work. The current opt-out arrangement appears to involve people acceptinga cookie that is stored on their computer which Phorm will have visibility of and know not to track the websites visited.

Many of those anxious about privacy will not want to accept a cookie like this. Exercise of a cookie means all devices with web access will need to be opted out, and if the cookie does gets misplaced their browsing would be tracked until they opted out once more. This is unlike to most opt out type services where unless you unequivocally opt back in you will never receive the material again.

There is a small inducement for people to remain opted into the service and this is a phishing warning system known as Webwise that comes as part of the advertising scheme. The FAQ that details how Webwise works also gives answers to some common questions about the advert tracking system. Phishing protection is incorporated into a number of anti-virus and Internet security packages in addition to some browser tool bar add-ins, so it could be said this feature is more a side-effect than the main reason for letting people track where you go online.

The FAQ tells that information including numbers, email addresses, web site URLs and other possible personal information are redundant and just the type of site is stored in the system. Secure websites using HTTPS are ignored by the system.

Trust is something that is developed over time. Enough people have seen reassurances before that turn out to mislaid. If this system has troubles it is certain to get lots of attention.


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