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Phorm, something you should be aware off

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What is Phorm?  Here's a brief summary of what it is and why it may be of interest to you.  Phorm is a digital technology company based in London, New York and Moscow currently working with UK Internet Service providers (ISP's) to provide targeted advertising based on YOUR own surfing habits.  Additional benefits from Phorm may be some level of fraud and phishing protection.  Perhaps a cheery little message warning you that you're stumbling into a bad neighbourhood.  Well it sounds wonderful doesn't it?  But do we get any choice?

Phorm is currently working with some of the UK's largest ISP's such as BT, Virgin Media and Talk Talk.  It is believed that small scale tests have already been carried out by certain provides, very worryingly without the knowledge or consent of their customers.  More information can be found on this article on The Register (see below).

It has been cited by Phorm that the data collected is in fact anonomised and that no user identity information including IP addresses will be retained or used (getting a warm fuzzy feeling yet?).

Back to that question about choice.  It's an important issue this, because up until now we've enjoyed a relative amount of freedom in terms of what we get from our Internet Service Provider. Whilst peer-to-peer blocking, capping, bandwidth throttling etc.  are somewhat irritating, at least you can rest assured they your privacy isn't called into question.  You get what you pay for, a connection to the Internet and you can surf the sites you choose to without fear.

Browsing the web Phorm might not be big scary big brother watching your every move, but I think that it should at least be an opt-in service rather than something you have to opt-out of if you don't want it.  As things currently stand most ISP's are taking the later approach and as you can imagine most people will be blissfully unaware and opt for the default package, phorm and all.  To me this is wrong.

Personally, I don't think that Joe public is that interested in receiving more targeted ads with his daily digest.  Current context sensitive advertising covers that and as for anti-phishing and fraud protection, all the current browsers already that built in anyway.  If my current ISP (Demon) decide to go with Phorm I would drop them like a hot brick and choose a different service provider.  Who says we don't have a choice?


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Anti Phorm

Anti Phorm

Something in the BBC news today:-

The European Commission has started legal action against Britain over the online advertising technology Phorm. It follows complaints to the EC over how the behavioural advertising service was tested on BT's broadband network without the consent of users. Last year Britain had said it was happy Phorm conformed to European data laws.

But the commission has said Phorm "intercepted" user data without clear consent and the UK need to look again at its online privacy laws.

In a statement, Phorm said its technology was "fully compliant with UK legislation and relevant EU directives".
Anti Phorm
15th Apr 09 09:59

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David Forbes

David Forbes

I'm getting very annoyed regarding the mass of advertising that have started to appear on my Broadband connection from BTYahoo! in the UK. I didn't ask for any advertising to appear and my anti-phising , anti-spy software has also detected 'Tracking Cookies'. How do I get rid of the lot?.
I'm also really concerned about my ISP giving my infromation to any 'third parties' , also my privacy being broken.
David Forbes
30th Oct 08 15:55

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5
Anti-phorm

Anti-phorm

BT should face prosecution for its "illegal" trials of a controversial ad-serving technology, a leading computer security researcher has said.

Dr Richard Clayton at the University of Cambridge made his comments after reviewing a leaked BT internal report.

The document reveals details of a 2006 BT trial with the Phorm system, which matches adverts to users' web habits.

"It's against the law of the land," he told BBC News. "We must now expect to see a prosecution."
But BT plans to push ahead with a further trial of the technology later this summer, the BBC has learnt.

Read the full story here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/technology/7438578.stm
Anti-phorm
6th Jun 08 10:30

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6
grumpyoldwoman

grumpyoldwoman

Personally I find that overdone advertising annoys me & then I will go out of my way to avoid buying that product, so advertisers beware!
grumpyoldwoman
22nd May 08 14:24

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PaulyPaul

PaulyPaul

Yes I was being apathetic wasn't I. Blame years of government brain washing for the NWO, I don't have the will to fight back or see a way to. I agree that the ISPs allowing Phorm access to monitor and place targeted Ads is very worrying. The general public have less and less right to privacy be it the insane amount of CCTV and a whole multitude of things!. Phorm is a step too far but the ISPs taking part only think of the extra £££ they'll get their greedy mitts on.
PaulyPaul
19th May 08 22:01

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12
Rick the Ranter

Rick the Ranter

Doesn't surprise me at all that BT are one of the first ISPs to sign up for Phorm. There is something inherently evil about BT business practice, both on commercial and domestic levels, and this is further confirmation of that.
Within the space of twelve months I cancelled all my dealings with BT; my ISP contract, my mobile phone contract and eventually my landline - initially, in each case, as a result of the worst customer service imaginable. I continue to urge my employer to change ISP.

I feel this is just the thin end of the wedge, and we the public should refuse to accept this insidious practice of what essentially boils down to invasion of privacy, before loopholes are found and the whole thing develops out of all proportion.
A comment as asinine (and contradictory) as "I don't really care, as I don't get up to anything dodgy except films and music torrents" just smacks of "I'm all right, Jack". I for one don't believe the originator of this comment would be quite so prepared to be the object of such hostile target marketing if it became manifest on his front doorstep every hour!

It's not about doing anything 'dodgy' on the internet, it's about gradual erosion of privacy and choice.
Rick the Ranter
19th May 08 12:42

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1
PaulyPaul

PaulyPaul

Phorm is great..great for the ISP's who are getting paid to have their customers spied on anyway. MY ISP will be using Phorm, we will have an option to opt out which I shall do. Phorm servers will still be spying though in real time, I don't really care as I don't get up to anything dodgy except films and music torrents now and again. I'd rather Phorm just pissed off though at the end of the day!.
PaulyPaul
19th May 08 00:08

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