Wikimedia Foundation opting out of Phorm

After some internal discussion on whether opting out of the Phorm user-profiling system in the UK would legitimize it, we’re going ahead and requesting an opt-out for all the domains under the Wikimedia Foundation’s control:

Subject: Phorm opt-out for Wikipedia.org and related domains
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 14:28:11 -0700
From: Brion Vibber <brion@wikimedia.org>
To: website-exclusion@webwise.com
CC: private-l@lists.wikimedia.org
To whom it may concern --
The Wikimedia Foundation requests that our web sites including
Wikipedia.org and all related domains be excluded from scanning by the
Phorm / BT Webwise system, as we consider the scanning and profiling of
our visitors' behavior by a third party to be an infringement on their
privacy.
Here is a list of our domains which should be excluded (please exclude
any and all subdomains as well):
wikipedia.org
wikipedia.com
wikipedia.co.uk
wikipedia.cz
wikipedia.fr
wikipedia.info
wikipedia.lt
wikipedia.net
wikipedia.nl
wikipedia.org.br
mediawiki.com
mediawiki.org
quickipedia.net
quickipedia.org
toolserver.org
vikipedio.com
vikipedio.org
wikibook.com
wikibooks.com
wikibooks.cz
wikibooks.org
wikicitaty.cz
wikidata.org
wikidisclosure.com
wikidisclosure.org
wikidruhy.cz
wikifamily.com
wikifamily.org
wikigis.com
wikigis.org
wikijunior.com
wikijunior.net
wikijunior.org
wikiknihy.cz
wikimania2006.org
wikimania2007.org
wikimaps.com
wikimaps.net
wikimediacommons.co.uk
wikimediacommons.de
wikimediacommons.eu
wikimediacommons.info
wikimediacommons.mobl
wikimediacommons.net
wikimediacommons.org
wikimedia.cz
wikimediafoundation.com
wikimediafoundation.net
wikimediafoundation.org
wikimedia.hu
wikimedia.li
wikimedia.lt
wikimedia.org
wikimedia.pl
wikimedia.se
wikimedia.us
wikimemory.org
wikimorial.com
wikimorial.org
wikinews.org
wikipaedia.net
wikipedie.cz
wikiquote.com
wikiquote.cz
wikiquote.net
wikiquote.org
wikislovnik.cz
wikisource.com
wikisource.cz
wikisource.org
wikispecies.com
wikispecies.cz
wikispecies.net
wikispecies.org
wikiversity.com
wikiversity.cz
wikiversity.org
wikiverzita.cz
wikizdroje.cz
wikizpravy.cz
wiktionary.com
wiktionary.cz
wiktionary.org
Thank you for your time.
-- brion vibber (brion @ wikimedia.org)
CTO, Wikimedia Foundation
San Francisco
+1 (415) 839-6885

Received autoreply:

Subject: 	Publisher Exclusion Request Autoreply
Date: 	Thu, 16 Apr 2009 14:28:30 -0700
From: 	website-exclusion
To: 	Brion Vibber
Thank you for your submission to the Phorm website exclusion list. If
there are no obvious grounds to doubt the legitimacy of the request the
URL will be blocked as soon as possible, usually within 48 hours.
Requests must be made by the legitimate owner of the domain. If we have
questions regarding your domain Phorm may take a number of steps,
including attempting to contact the domain administrator by email for
confirmation of this request. If the request remains questionable and is
not confirmed within 10 days, the URL will be removed from the exclusion
list and an email will be sent informing you of this decision.
Where applicable, please ensure that the Administrative Contact details
for this domain are up to date. If you need to update them, please
resubmit your request when the amended details are visible in the WhoIs
database - (use a public whois service such as
_http://who.godaddy.com/whoischeck.aspx_ if you are unsure it has been
updated)

Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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It might, additionally be a good idea to block Phorm servers using htaccess, since a ‘passive’ record of visited pages will, most likely, be kept, even if it doesn’t inform their algorithm.
Sample htaccess files can be found at dephormation https://dephormation.org.uk/index.php?page=7; more options (such as php blocking) can be pulled down from their ‘server-side’ menu.

Fantastic news

Phorm is a parasitic disgrace to the UK, and a blight on the creative efforts of all those who make the internet the valuable information resource it is.
Thanks for supporting the campaign to stop it.
There is a petition to the Prime Minister here;
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/dataprofiling/

Well done and thank you. The UK web community will be grateful.
Prepare to be scraped. Check your logs.

Can you repeat it with wikipedia.ru?..

Thank you. I hope others will follow suit.

Brilliant news. The sooner these parasites are gone the better.

Well done Wikipedia. Well done Brian. Exactly what your readers, donors and contributors wanted to see you do. Thanks.

Don’t forget – it isn’t just BT Webwise who are operating this horrible stuff – there is Korea Telecom with Smartweb, which is just another Phorm incarnation – and there may be others (including Virgin Media and TalkTalk in the UK). Watch your website logs very carefully for evidence of scraping after you have made this request – some people have suggested that Phorm IPV4 Assignment IP addresses are allegedly STILL crawling their sites even after requesting them not to.

>#5 by Lvova – April 17th, 2009 at 07:20
>
>Can you repeat it with wikipedia.ru?..
The Wikimedia Foundation is not concerned with “wikipedia.ru”

Wikimedia can only do this for domains it directly controls. There are a lot of wikipedia.* domains which aren’t under the direct control of the Wikimedia Foundation, for assorted historical reasons. (This is getting sorted out slowly.) So the registered contacts for those domains will need to send opt-outs separately.
This is why opting-out is fundamentally flawed.

I have requested exclusion of my domains too, and I’m encouraging everyone I know to do it too.

Excellent news, Wikipedia. Opting out is indeed fundamentally flawed, but it is all that we have right now.

Norbi :
>#5 by Lvova – April 17th, 2009 at 07:20
>
>Can you repeat it with wikipedia.ru?..
The Wikimedia Foundation is not concerned with “wikipedia.ru”

and what, and do not want to have any relationship?

Lvova : Norbi : >#5 by Lvova – April 17th, 2009 at 07:20 > >Can you repeat it with wikipedia.ru?.. The Wikimedia Foundation is not concerned with “wikipedia.ru” and what, and do not want to have any relationship? The respective owner of this domain has to request the opt-out personally. Just as David Gerard wrote: David Gerard : Wikimedia can only do this for domains it directly controls. There are a lot of wikipedia.* domains which aren’t under the direct control of the Wikimedia Foundation, for assorted historical reasons. (This is getting sorted out slowly.) So the registered contacts for… Read more »

Nice action, and praiseworthy, but your “we consider the scanning and profiling of our visitors’ behavior by a third party to be an infringement on their privacy” isn’t a good reason for it, I’m afraid. Those visitors will all independently have chosen to be scanned and profiled by Phorm (assuming that the ICO will successfully insist on Phorm being Opt-In, as it has said it must – though this may be a big assume). This being so, it’s not for Wikipedia to deny them that ‘privilege’. But it *is* for Wikipedia to deny Phorm the right to profile Wikipedia’s responses;… Read more »

This is great news. Thank you Wiki for thinking about the users first.

Thanks very much Wikipedia for helping UK internet users. Most appreciated.

Shouldn’t that be wikimediacommons.mobi not wikimediacommons.mobl ?

Well-done!

As another poster above indicated, this should be done via htaccess – you simply can not trust Phorm (or any entity that collects data on behalf of governments).
At the end of the day, if Wikimedia does not take adequate steps to ensure that the rights of its patrons are not violated, then Wiki’s name will be even further reduced (it’s already well-known in cryptanarchist circles as a hidebound adherent to any demand from a government… a ‘correct line’ institution in the Marxian sense)

“it’s already well-known in cryptanarchist circles as a hidebound adherent to any demand from a government… a ‘correct line’ institution in the Marxian sense”
I’m sure you’ll understand if people fail to quake in their boots at this.