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Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Arturo
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎28-07-2013

Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

I've just logged-in to the portal to view my broadband usage for this month and noticed that there are now four trackers on the home page - Digital Window, Google Analytics, Omniture and Web trends.
I can maybe understand why Plusnet wants to use Google Analytics to get feedback about site usage but the other three are for advertising and there is no advertising on the portal. So why are they there?
The portal is one of the few web pages where you have no choice but to login with your real details so I strongly object to this site becoming part of the covert tracking network of these companies. Why has Plusnet done this to its customers?
14 REPLIES
dratddestroyer
Grafter
Posts: 164
Registered: ‎27-09-2007

Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

I agree these trackers invade our privacy.
I have quite a large hosts file to make these trackers not work.
This is explained on the Wikipedia page: [tt]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosts_file[/tt]
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,472
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Registered: ‎11-08-2007

Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

I block those with Adblock Plus
Community Veteran
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

NoScript for me: http://noscript.net/
Call me 'w23'
At any given moment in the universe many things happen. Coincidence is a matter of how close these events are in space, time and relationship.
Opinions expressed in forum posts are those of the poster, others may have different views.
Moderator
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

i use ghostery to block them..

Customer / Moderator / If it helped click the thumb / If it fixed it click 'This fixed my problem'

Community Gaffer
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Digital Window I think is for affiliate click throughs and webtrends we use in house for monitoring the success of marketing mail sends and the like. Not sure about Omniture and Google Analytics should be self explanatory.

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Product Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Community Veteran
Posts: 5,472
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

What are -
    https://analytics.freespee.com/js/external/fs.js
    https://plusnet.tt.omtrdc.net/m2/plusnet/mbox/standard?mboxHost
    https://www.dwin1.com/2973.js

used for ?
which are also part of the Plusnet customer login page !  Huh
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Quote from: purleigh
https://analytics.freespee.com/js/external/fs.js

Analytics.
Quote
https://plusnet.tt.omtrdc.net/m2/plusnet/mbox/standard?mboxHost

That's Omniture as per the OP's original observation. After having a chat with one of our web developers I'm told this is what we use to conduct 'split testing' of the site.
Quote
https://www.dwin1.com/2973.js

That's for affiliate tracking.

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Product Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Arturo
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎28-07-2013

Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Quote from: Bob
Digital Window I think is for affiliate click throughs and webtrends we use in house for monitoring the success of marketing mail sends and the like. Not sure about Omniture and Google Analytics should be self explanatory.

Hi Bob, thanks for the swift response.
The thing that bothers me is that each time I login to the Plusnet customer portal (https://portal.plus.net/) it seems like you've added another tracker; an exageration for sure but that's what it feels like. I'm concerned that the customer portal is becoming part of the network of companies like Omniture. I don't particularly care about the main site (http://www.plus.net/) but when you login to a customer portal you kind of expect privacy.
You seem to be suggesting that these trackers are being used purely as in-house tools to analyse the website and, by extension, that you're not passing data about your customers to third-parties. Is that correct?
Other forum users who are curious about Omniture might like to read the following article at the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/03/adobe.apple. It's a few years old (200Cool but does give a interesting insight into the ethics of Adobe/Omniture.
Community Gaffer
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Quote from: Arturo
You seem to be suggesting that these trackers are being used purely as in-house tools to analyse the website and, by extension, that you're not passing data about your customers to third-parties. Is that correct?

Some of it is for analysis yes. Some of it is so that affiliate traffic and the like can be tracked e.g. Quidco and cashback site claims. A lot of the marketing emails we send point customers to the online upgrade journey that requires you to be logged in. It's for reasons like this that you'll find reference to a lot of the sites in and around the Member Centre. We respect customers' privacy.

Bob Pullen
Plusnet Product Team
If I've been helpful then please give thanks ⤵

Arturo
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎28-07-2013

Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

OK Bob, your explanation seems reasonable enough but I still don't understand why you need so many trackers.
FYI there is an analytics solution from Piwik which would do what you need but in a more customer friendly way. It's open source (I've read elsewhere on the site that Plusnet likes to support open source) and it's overarching principle is collecting analytics in a way that respects the privacy of a site's users.
Anyway, personally I detest these trackers - particularly Omniture, I'm sick of continually deleting the 2o7 cookie - so I've installed Ghostery (http://www.ghostery.com/) in my browser, as one of the other forum members helpfully suggested. It's so easy to use and really unobtrusive. It just runs silently in the background; you don't even notice it's there.
Cheers


If any other forum members are interested, Ghostery is a browser plugin/extension and is available for the big 5 browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer. You can download it directly from the Ghostery site http://www.ghostery.com/ or, perhaps an easier option, go to the plugin store of your browser (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/extensions for example, if you're a Chrome user) and install it from there. Dead simple.
Superuser
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

There's a recent article about Ghostery , seems like there "on both sides of the fence"
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/516156/a-popular-ad-blocker-also-helps-the-ad-industry/
Regards
Mike 
Mike
Arturo
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎28-07-2013

Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Thanks for the link Mike, "Disconnect" looks very interesting. I hadn't heard of that one before.
I'm aware that Ghostery is owned by Evidon which is "allied" to the advertising industry. The thing is, I'm not against advertising per se. I just think that, with cross-site tracking, the industry has gone too far; and that's probably due to a lack of regulation.
Many web sites I enjoy rely on advertising, which is fine. The problem arises when these sites join one of the tracking networks. let's be realistic though, when you visit a commercial website-even a social network where you create the content-you're a user not a customer because you're not paying. It's the advertisers who are the site's customers. This three-sided relationship can be summed up with the oft used adage/cliché "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product". That doesn't really apply in this case though because we are Plusnet's customers, we've paid for broadband so I think that hooking the members area into these tracking networks is just wrong.
Anyway, I've installed Ghostery (with the "enable GhostRank" box unticked) without any expectation of perfection, just as a reasonable solution to a problem. In theory Ghostery offers fine-grained control over tracking by allowing you to block or unblock individual trackers on individual domains. To be brutally honest though that's just too much hassle, so I've done what I suspect most people do. I've used it as a blunt instrument to block everything.
So now when I visit "PC Pro" for example (13 trackers on a page but far from the worst culprit; I think 26 is my record), I feel like a leech for consuming their content while blocking some of their revenue. But, am I any worse than someone watching Coronation Street who pops out to make a cuppa during the commercial break?
Gel
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Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Arturo
Newbie
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎28-07-2013

Re: Why has Plusnet begun spying on its customers?

Thanks Gel
I'm not a huge fan of these "set a cookie to stop a cookie" type schemes and it doesn't look like Digital Window, Omniture and Web trends are members anyway.