A controversial profile-based internet advertising system, considered by many to infringe on personal privacy.

See Also

Related Links



2009-04-08 - The Register - Phorm moves beyond privacy - except when slating rivals
Author: Joe Fay
Summary: Ertugrul and the other Phorm execs were adamant that it was "time to move on" on the privacy issue. Except that no-one really wanted to. Not the audience at the Q&A, and certainly not Phorm, when it came to slamming a certain "large search engine" and other large vested internet interests for their record on privacy. These organisations are keeping the majority of web users in the dark about their storing of users' surfing habits, said Ertrugul, "so they don't even know they have a choice."
2009-02-16 - The Guardian - UK mobile phone firms to sell data about customer activity
Author: Richard Wray
Summary: The UK's mobile phone networks are to start selling data about the internet sites visited by their customers to advertisers. The companies have been collecting the information over the past year and will use it in an attempt to generate more advertising. News that the industry has been monitoring what users do on the mobile web is likely to infuriate privacy campaigners. ... In its trial, the UK's five networks - 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone - used deep packet inspection technology to collect data covering about half the UK's entire mobile web traffic.
2009-02-12 - ZDNet - EC warns gov't over Phorm foot-dragging
Author: Tom Espiner
Summary: The European Commission has threatened to take formal action against the UK government, which it says has not provided information it needs in its probe into Phorm ad-serving technology. The Commission warned the government on Thursday that its reaction to the investigation has been unsatisfactory so far. The Commission has sent three letters requesting information from the government, but has not received sufficient answers
2009-02-11 - The Register - EU threatens 'formal action' against on Phorm
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The European Commission has given its strongest signal yet that it will hold the UK government to account for its failure to act over BT and Phorm's secret and allegedly illegal internet monitoring trials in 2006 and 2007. Telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding has again demanded answers from the UK as to why no enforcement action has been taken over the wiretapping and profiling of tens of thousands of BT broadband subscribers without any permission or notification. Reding's chief spokesman Martin Selmayr said: "The European Commission's investigation with regard to the Phorm case is still ongoing." .. "The Commission may have to proceed to formal action if the UK authorities do not provide a satisfactory response to the Commission's concerns on the implementation of European law in the context of the Phorm case," he said.
2009-02-10 - The Register - Phorm: BT system 'most definitely' online by end of 2009
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Phorm are saying they will go live across the BT broadband network by the end of 2009. BT seems less sure.
2009-02-02 - The Guardian - BT wants to monitor your online activities
Author: Becky Hogge
Summary: ... it is happening right now. The only difference is that it's not happening in the physical world, it's happening online. Since last autumn, BT – under the "Webwise" banner – has been trialling a technology called Phorm, which dials direct into your internet service provider's network and intercepts communications between you and the websites you visit, using information about the sorts of things you are viewing to serve you targeted ads. ... Thanks to hard work from campaigners at the Foundation for Information Policy Research and the Open Rights Group, and activists at and, we now have that choice. The Information Commissioner's Office has ruled that BT must ask the explicit permission of its customers to "opt in" before enrolling them into its Webwise trial (rather than the pernicious "opt out" clauses so beloved of marketers and junk mail operatives).
2009-01-16 - The Register - Online advertisers team up on privacy principles
Summary: Self-regulation to head off Phorm backlash. Advertisers and agencies in the US have promised to create a code of practice to allay fears about increasingly intrusive forms of online advertising. Four major advertising trade associations said that they will work together on self-regulation.
2008-12-18 - The Guardian - What's going on at Phorm?
Author: Bobbie Johnson
Summary: Just days after four directors quite the controversial internet advertising company, two more senior faces are on their way out. Another week, another shakeup at everybody's favourite deep packet inspectors, Phorm. At the beginning of the month a little light bloodletting saw four directors bite the dust, and now we discover that those weren't the only changes. Hugo Drayton, Phorm's UK chief executive is stepping down, as is UK chief financial officer, Lynne Millar.
2008-12-18 - ZDNet - Deep packet inspection takes another hit as Phorm execs leave
Author: Sam Diaz
Summary: The future isn't looking too bright for those in the business of Deep Packet Inspection, notably a company called Phorm where leadership has been eroding this month. You'll recall that DPI is the technology that some ISPs were considering to scour a customer's computer for granular information so it could deliver more relevant ads. Yeah, totally inappropriate big brother behavior - at least in the U.S., where lawmakers drilled ISPs about their involvement and the one of the leading companies, Nebuad, has been slapped with a class action lawsuit.
2008-12-15 - ZDNet - BT finishes trial, expects to use Phorm
Author: Tom Espiner
Summary: BT has finished its third trial of behavioural ad-serving technology from Phorm, and has announced that it will probably go ahead with deployment. The trial of the technology, which BT has branded 'Webwise', began on 30 September and ran until 10 December.
2008-12-02 - The Guardian - Lamont joins online advertising group after boardroom bloodletting
Author: Richard Wray
Summary: Former Tory chancellor Norman Lamont is joining the board of controversial online advertising group Phorm after a boardroom power struggle that led to the ousting of its chairman and three other directors yesterday. The coup puts Phorm chief executive and 15% shareholder Kent Ertugrul back in the driving seat and sees the departure of former Coca-Cola chief operating officer Steven Heyer, who was appointed chairman only in August.
2008-12-02 - The Independent - Not a black day for headline-writers
Summary: The job of writing headlines about Phorm, the advertising technology company, became a whole lot easier yesterday after it hired a former Tory chancellor and a high-profile banker as non-executive directors, following a management reshuffle. Norman Lamont, below, famous for being in charge at the Treasury on Black Wednesday in 1992, will help, if any was needed, with any "Black..." headlines. And Stefan Allesch-Taylor, chief executive of the investment bank Fairfax, who used to keep piranhas in his office, will surely take care of any stories about being bitten by the credit crunch.
2008-12-02 - Telecom TV - Phorm's night of the long knives
Author: Martyn Warwick
Summary: They don't do things by halves at Phorm - they do it wholesale. In a move reminiscent of a purge of an east-European politburo circa 1952, the controversial ISP adware tracking technology company yesterday dumped four of its board members (including a chairman who held on to his seat for just three months).
2008-12-01 - The Register - Lord Lamont joins Phorm board
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: Four directors have left controversial ISP adware firm Phorm, including chairman of three months Stephen Heyer. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont is among their replacements. Non-executive directors David Dorman and Christopher Lawrence, and chief operating officer Virasb Vahidi have also left Phorm today.
2008-12-01 - ClickZ - Behavioral Targeting Has Execs, MPs, Debating in London
Author: Jack Marshall
Summary: Largely as a result of the media furor surrounding companies such as Phorm and NebuAd, a number of events concerning behavioral targeting have been held in the U.K. recently. ... Ian Brown, speaking on behalf of the Oxford Internet Institute, commended Phorm on its transparency. However, he said he was not convinced on the legality of the firm's practices, nor that sufficient benefits are being passed to consumers in return for their involvement with ISP-based targeting programs.
2008-11-30 - ars technica - ISP's secret opt-in advertising test draws the UK's ire
Author: Joel Hruska
Summary: It's no surprise that ISPs are aggressively pursuing new revenue streams, but UK ISP BT may have crossed the line. Two years ago it retained search records and information on some 18,000 users, without informing them first. UK investigators have announced their intent to investigate ISP British Telecom (BT) over the contents of a leaked internal memo that surfaced last June. According to the memo, BT data-mined the web browsing activity of some 18,000 users during a two week period in September/October 2006, and they did so without informing the users. Whether this was illegal under UK law has been a point of contention between privacy advocates and BT; the results of the UK's investigation should settle the matter.
2008-11-29 - Telegraph - CPS investigates BT over internet trials
Author: Rupert Neate
Summary: BT ran two secret trials of the software made by Phorm without seeking its customers' permission in 2006 and 2007. This year, City of London Police investigated allegations that the trials were in breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) but found no evidence of illegal activity. Now Alex Hanff, a privacy campaigner, has filed a private prosecution against BT. The CPS confirmed it had begun a new investigation.
2008-11-27 - British Computer Society - BT behaviour 'bad Phorm'
Summary: BT trials of Phorm technology have 'rubbed people up the wrong way', one industry expert has said. Thomas Newton, mobile phone expert at UK Web Media, suggested that testing the system without gaining prior consent from customers was 'legally dubious'. 'Shutting down entire forum threads that have been active since February 2008 demonstrates a refusal to address the concerns of consumers, which only serves to add fuel to the problem,' he added. ... Meanwhile, both Orange and Tiscali have criticised the technology and said that they will not be using it.
2008-11-27 - The Register - Prosecutors gather evidence on secret BT-Phorm trials
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is gathering evidence on BT's covert trials of Phorm's ISP-level adware system to help it judge whether it is in the public interest to allow a private prosecution for breach of wiretapping laws. CPS lawyers have asked to see the file handed to City of London police in summer.
2008-11-21 - The Telegraph - BT bans Phorm talk on its forums
Author: Claudine Beaumont
Summary: BT has deleted a discussion thread from its user forums about the controversial targeted advertising system made by Phorm. ... BT said that it had decided to close a thread where customers were discussing the trial in order to keep the dialogue "constructive". "To ensure that the forums remain constructive, we're tightening up our moderation policies and will be deleting threads that don't provide constructive support. "For example, we have removed a number of forum discussions about BT Webwise. If you do want to find out more about BT Webwise, we provide lots of information and the facility to contact us at"
2008-11-19 - The Register - BT silences customers over Phorm
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: BT has banned all future discussion of Phorm and its "WebWise" targeted advertising product on its customer forums, and deleted all past threads about the controversy dating back to February.
2008-10-30 - The Register - Orange ditches Phorm
Author: John Oates
Summary: Orange, the UK's sixth largest broadband provider, is not going to use Phorm's data-snooping technology. Paul-Francois Fournier told the FT: "Privacy is in our DNA, so we need to be honest and clear about what we are doing. We have decided not to be in Phorm because of that... The way it was proposed, the privacy issue was too strong."
2008-10-16 - The Guardian - Your help please: Why does Phorm concern you?
Author: Bobbie Johnson
Summary: After all this time, BT still doesn't understand why people are worried about the rollout of Phorm's webwise technology. How can we get the message across to them?
2008-10-14 - the Register - CPS to consider private prosecution over stealth Phorm trials
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The Crown Prosecution Service will examine evidence that BT and Phorm's stealth advertising targeting trials broke wiretapping laws, despite a recent police refusal to pass the case to prosecutors.
2008-10-10 - The Register - Brussels bounces BT-Phorm quiz back to
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The European Commission has again written to the government for an explanation of UK authorities' response to BT's allegedly illegal secret trials of Phorm's ISP adware system. Brussels still wants answers after a September missive from Whitehall failed to address legal issues surrounding past deployments of the technology, and didn't provide details about how future rollouts will be regulated. EU officials originally wrote to the UK at the end of June to find out why no action had been taken over the 2006 and 2007 trials, which were conducted in secret and without customer consent. The European Privacy and Electronic Communications directive demands that customers are given informed prior warning if their communications and data are intercepted or processed in any way.
2008-10-03 - The Register - BT's Phorm small print: It's all your fault
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: BT subscribers who are invited to take part in its new trial of Phorm's internet monitoring and advertising system will be responsible for telling anyone who uses their computer that they could be being tracked online - whether they opt in or not. In the updated Total Broadband terms and conditions for the trial, BT washes its hands of any legal responsibility if people do not realise their web browsing is under surveillance. What's more, parents are expected to teach their children about Phorm, so they can offer the individual informed consent the technology requires to operate within the law.
2008-10-02 - New Statesman - Very poor phorm
Author: Becky Hogge
Summary: Advertisers should not be allowed to spy on net users' browsing habits ... The Information Commissioner has already made clear that, in order to deploy Phorm within data protection principles, ISPs must obtain users' explicit consent. What's not so clear is whether ISPs are legally able to intercept the communications, between web users and website owners, that make up browsing the web at all. Unless the ISPs have the explicit consent of users and website owners, they are likely to be breaking laws that govern interception of communications in the UK. ... Now concerned citizens are holding a whip-round to pursue the issue in the courts.
2008-09-26 - tech radar - Police opens door to spyware makers
Summary: The news that the police wouldn't charge BT over trialing the insidious Phorm ad-spyware certainly didn't come as a major surprise, but when I read the justification for this decision from the City of London constabulary I was livid. ... Apparently, because BT thought that the user experience would be helped by personally served ads, this means that the customers who were not asked if they wanted to participate in a trial that watched their internet behaviour without informing them, had implied their consent.
2008-09-22 - The Register - Police drop BT-Phorm probe
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: In an email to Alex Hanff, the anti-Phorm campaigner who compiled the dossier handed to City of London Police, detective sargeant Barry Murray wrote: The matter will not be investigated by the City of London Police as it has been decided that no Criminal Offence has been committed. One of the main reasons for this decision is the lack of Criminal Intent on behalf of BT and Phorm Inc in relation to the tests. It is also believed that there would have been a level of implied consent from BT's customers in relation to the tests, as the aim was to enhance their products.
2008-09-17 - PC Advicer - Gov't approves controversial Phorm advertising system
Author: Oliver Garnham
Summary: Phorm has been ordered to make it easier for UK web surfers to opt-out of its controversial ad-targeting system, while future trials of the scheme will only be given the go-ahead if customers agree to them. That's the verdict of a government investigation into Phorm's Webwise technology ... The European Commission asked the UK government to look into Phorm in July, when it sent a request to the UK's Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)
2008-09-16 - BBC - UK government responds on Phorm
Summary: The government has outlined how a controversial online ad system can be rolled out in the UK. In response to EU questions about its legality, it said that it was happy Phorm conformed to EU data laws. But any future deployments of the system must be done with consent and make it easy for people to opt out. The European Union had demanded clarification about the system which tracks web habits in order to provide better targeted ads.
2008-09-16 - The Guardian - Phorm: the UK government's verdict
Author: Jemima Kiss
Summary: Phorm, the controversial ad-targeting system, does conform to European data laws, the UK government has said, but it must be more explicit in informing customers about the programme and make opt out more straightforward. ... The UK government's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform said today in a statement to the EU that Phorm users " will be presented with an unavoidable statement about the product and asked to exercise choice about whether to be involved". "Users will be able to easily access information on how to change their mind at any point and are free to opt in or out of the scheme."
2008-09-08 - Wired - British Firm Phorm Trudges Through the Deep Packet Storm
Summary: Deep packet inspection - the secret harvesting of granular details about individual internet activity so companies can make better guesses about what to sell you - has been facing a slow death in the U.S. NebuAd, the leader on these shores, has shed employees and lost its CEO amid public backlash and intense congressional scrutiny that led one legislator to question if what they were doing was even legal. But British firm Phorm, which provides a similar service abroad, has so far managed to steer through the death-inducing scrutiny and negative press that has enveloped NebuAd.
2008-09-05 - The Register - Police quiz BT on secret Phorm trials
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: City of London police questioned BT earlier this week as part of a probe into the covert wiretapping and profiling of the internet use of tens of thousands of BT customers during tests of Phorm's adware system. Officers have been examining the dossier of evidence handed to Wood Street police station by campaigners following the 16 July protest against BT's planned full deployment of Phorm's technology. It included the internal documents detailing the 2006 trial
2008-09-05 - MSN - Police question BT about secret Phorm trials
Summary: Following the fallout earlier this year over BT's deployment of the Phorm online targeted advertising technology, a full investigation has finally been launched by police.
2008-09-04 - Financial Times - Phorm delays internet trial
Author: Tim Bradshaw
Summary: Phorm admitted on Thursday that preparations for the first major trial of its internet advertising technology had taken "longer than originally anticipated" but that it still expected deployments to go ahead with the UK's largest broadband providers. ... Phorm's shares, which have fallen 68 per cent in the past 12 months, closed up 22 per cent to 750p.
2008-09-04 - The Register - Phorm: Our business is fine, honest
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: After its share price slumped to a new low, Phorm today sought to allay investor fears about the ISP-level adware business by repeating assurances that a critical third trial with BT will go ahead. ... Phorm's latest slide followed newspaper stories in the US in the past few days that voiced serious doubts over whether its business will ever gain public or regulatory acceptance. Yesterday Bob Dykes, the founder of Phorm rival NebuAd, quit as its CEO.
2008-08-15 - ars technica - EU calls phoul over ad company Phorm's invasive snooping
Author: Ryan Paul
Summary: In the quest for increasingly targeted Internet advertising, some companies are turning to tactics that threaten to undermine user privacy. One such company is the UK advertiser Phorm, which snoops and analyzes Internet traffic so it can tailor its advertising to user interests. Some of the largest ISPs in the UK have signed revenue-sharing deals with Phorm and have integrated its technology directly into their networks. These practices are facing close scrutiny and could soon provoke a major regulatory smackdown.
2008-08-13 - The Register - Phorm secretly tracked Americans too
Author: Cade Metz
Summary: Phorm has also deployed its behavioral ad targeting technologies in the USA. ... Phorm says that it's no longer working with these ISPs and that it now has "no business partnerships in the States." ... Congressman Ed Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, and other high-ranking lawmakers have questioned whether an opt-in-less third-party behavioral ad targeter runs afoul of the US Communications Act of 1934, the Cable Act of 1984, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and other wiretapping-related US statutes.
2008-08-12 - The Register - misses deadline on EU Phorm probe
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: The government has failed to meet a deadline to respond to European Commission questions over the UK's handling of BT's allegedly illegal secret trials of Phorm's ISP-level adware and its planned rollout of the system to millions of subscribers, The Register has learned. The Commission wrote to the UK government to quiz officials on why no action has been taken over the trials under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR), which implement European Directives on wiretapping and communications data. Contrary to reports last week, the letter was sent on 30 June, not mid-July. It required the UK to respond to the letter one month after it was sent, not by the end of August, as wrongly claimed by the BBC.
2008-08-11 - The Register - Phorm papers reveal BT's backwards approach to wiretap law
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: BT's long-held claim that legal advice said its Phorm trials did not breach wiretapping laws came under renewed scrutiny today, as documents revealed the firm approached government experts after it had secretly co-opted 18,000 broadband customers into the advertising targeting system. Papers obtained from the Home Office under the Freedom of Information Act show that the department was first contacted about Phorm on 15 November 2006. The first secret trial of the system conducted by BT Retail ran between 23 September and 6 October that year. ... The sequence of events means that BT executives did not ask the Home Office whether Phorm's technology might contravene the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) until after their experiment to profile customers' web browsing for advertisers without their consent had been judged a success. And just as Phorm did not disclose the secret trials when it met Home Office officials in August 2007, BT did not mention them when it sought government legal opinion.
2008-08-08 - BBC - Home Office questioned over Phorm
Summary: Questions about how the government has dealt with complaints about an ad-serving firm that monitors web traffic are being asked ahead of an EU enquiry. In the House of Lords Lib Dem peer Baroness Miller has asked a series of questions about the nature of talks between the government and Phorm. Critics have asked why the Home Office has not intervened over secret Phorm trials BT conducted in 2006 and 2007. The EU has asked the UK government to clarify the situation
2008-08-06 - Computing - EU challenges UK on Phorm
Author: Tom Young
Summary: The European Union (EU) has written to the UK government asking it to clarify whether a new system being used by ISPs to monitor web traffic conforms to data protection laws.
2008-07-16 - The Register - EU tells UK to deal with Phorm - or else
Author: Cade Metz
Summary: "It is very clear in E.U. directives that unless someone specifically gives authorization (to track consumer activity on the Web) then you don't have the right to do that," EU commissioner Viviane Reding said. If UK government does not deal with the issue, Dow Jones says, the EC could take action in the European Court of Justice.
2008-07-16 - The Register - Phorm protestors picket BT AGM
Author: John Oates
Summary: Attendees at BT's Annual General Meeting today will have to run the gauntlet of an anti-Phorm protest outside the event at the Barbican, London. Protestors will hear from Baroness Miller, who is tomorrow meeting the Home Office to outline her objections to BT's trial of the snooping technology without informing users. BT conducted two trials with Phorm which gave the former spyware company access to thousands of BT customers' browsing history without telling them. Phorm aims to use anonymised browsing information to sell more targeted advertising. BT insists the secret trial was legal, even though it appears to breach UK wiretap laws.
2008-06-09 - ZDNet - Watchdog rules out punishment over Phorm trials
Author: Tom Espiner
Summary: The Information Commissioner's Office has ruled out an investigation of BT or Phorm, despite calls from academics for the telecommunications giant to be punished over trials of controversial ad-serving technology in 2006.
2008-05-18 - Light Blue Touch Paper - Twisty little passages, all alike
Summary: Dr Richard Clayton releases the re-revised technical Analysis after Phorm 'remembers more detail'.
2008-04-23 - Open Rights Group - FIPR calls on Home Office to withdraw misleading advice on Phorm
Summary: The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR) has today sent the Home Office in-depth legal analysis [pdf] of the Phorm behavioural advertising system. The analysis has been produced by FIPR's General Counsel (and ORG Advisory Council member) Nicholas Bohm, and complements the technical analysis produced by Richard Clayton earlier this month
2008-04-18 - Information Commissioner's Office - [1]
Summary: Regulation 7 of PECR will require the ISP to get the consent of users to the use of their traffic data for any value added services. This strongly supports the view that Phorm products will have to operate on an opt in basis to use traffic data as part of the process of returning relevant targeted marketing to internet users.
2008-04-15 - BBC - The Phorm privacy debate - London
Author: Darren Waters
Summary: I'm at the Phorm privacy meeting in London, where the creators of the controversial online ad system are coming face to face with some of their most vocal critics. I'll be blogging throughout the meeting with key impressions and writing a report on the meeting for Wednesday's news pages.
2008-04-14 - The Register - BT's 'illegal' 2007 Phorm trial profiled tens of thousands
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: BT's covert trial of Phorm's ISP adware technology in summer 2007 involved tracking many thousands more customers without their knowledge than previously reported, it's emerged. ... The number could be as high as 108,000. ... Don Foster MP, a Liberal Democrat who has taken a lead in parliament over the Phorm controversy, has called on BT to reveal the details of its allegedly illegal action. Branding BT's role in the secret trials "disgraceful", he said: "It's time for BT to come clean about exactly what happened last summer and why customers were kept in the dark while they were used as guinea pigs."
2008-04-09 - BBC - Phorm 'illegal' says policy group
Summary: Online advert system Phorm is illegal in the UK, the Foundation for Information Policy Research (Fipr), has argued in an open letter. ... Fipr believes Phorm contravenes the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa), which protects users from unlawful interception of information. ... Fipr has written an open letter to the Information Commissioner Richard Thomas in which it argues that Phorm must not only seek the consent of web users but also of website operators.
2008-04-04 - Alexander Hanff undergraduate dissertation - A Critical Evaluation of the 2006/2007 trials of Phorm Inc. Technology by BT PLC.
Author: Alexander Hanff
Summary: In 2008 BT PLC made public statements admitting to running covert trials of Deep Packet Inspection technologies for the purpose of behavioural pro�ling; the trials included more than one hundred thousand[1] of their customers during 2006 and 2007. Key public authorities, privacy experts, the press and the public have voiced concerns over whether or not the trials were legal. The controversy rests in whether or not the trials constituted unlawful interception of communications as a result of not obtaining informed consent from relevant parties. ... After careful analysis of relevant EU and UK laws, statutes and directives it can be interpreted that fundamental legal requirements were not met, making the covert trials illegal under criminal law and unlawful under common law. As such it is recommended that the relevant public authorities should o�cially investigate the matter in the interests of public justice.
2008-04-04 - Information Commissioner's Office - Phorm advertising - ICO statement
Summary: The ICO has received a number of queries concerning the recent announcement by Phorm ... Understandably, this has provoked considerable public concern ... They clearly recognise the need to address the concerns raised by a number of individuals and organisations including the Open Rights Group. ... We understand that the technology is not yet in use
2008-04-01 - The Register - BT and Phorm secretly tracked 18,000 customers in 2006
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: BT secretly intercepted and profiled the web browsing of 18,000 of its broadband customers in 2006 using advertising technology provided by 121Media, the alleged spyware company that changed its name to Phorm last year. BT Retail ran the "stealth" pilot without customer consent between 23 September and 6 October 2006. The technology was approved, pending a further trial.
2008-03-12 - BBC - Open Rights Group questions Phorm
Summary: Campaign body the Open Rights Group (ORG) has called for further detail on the workings of ad system Phorm. ... "Until we know exactly how Phorm works, and across whose networks our data will flow, speculation about the privacy implications will continue", said ORG.
2008-03-04 - The Register - Data pimping: surveillance expert raises illegal wiretap worries
Author: Chris Williams
Summary: A leading expert on computer surveillance has raised serious doubts over the legality of deals by BT, Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse to sell their customers' web browsing data to Phorm, a new online advertising company. Professor Peter Sommer a frequent expert witness in data crime trials, said the plan to monitor the contents of the websites people visit in order to target advertising could fall foul of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).
2008-03-03 - Information Commissioner's Office - Advertising technology company Phorm
Summary: At our request, Phorm has provided written information to us about the way in which the company intends to meet privacy standards. We are currently reviewing this information. We are also in contact with the ISPs who are working with Phorm and we are discussing this issue with them. "We will be in a position to comment further in due course."