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British Telecom Wants to Watch

It announced Monday that it would begin testing an ad monitoring system developed by Phorm, which also has deals to work with two other big Internet providers in Britain. Phorm is going to monitor every most of the Web sites that customers visit and every most of the search terms they enter. It will test the system with 10,000 customers. It said it expects to roll out the system to all customers after studying the results, but it didn’t offer any schedule.

There are really two questions for these sort of programs.

First is the big philosophical and legal question: Is it appropriate at all for an Internet provider to keep track of where its customers surf for any purpose?

Second, if an Internet provider decides to go ahead, how does it explain the program to its customers and what sort of choices does it give?



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