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back to article Virgin Media distances itself from Phorm 'adoption' claims

Virgin Media today sought to publicly clarify its relationship with Phorm, amid concerns that spin from the controversial ISP adware company has worried many of its customers. Virgin Media has extensively rewritten information on its website about the "Webwise" advertising targeting system to make it clear that it has not agreed …

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So are Phorm in trouble with the finacial authorities

Does this suggest that they lied on their signed press statement tio inflate the price and the company Phorm and its Webwise product?

Its this not punishable?

Another reason not to trust this outfit with its roots based in spyware.

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Anonymous Coward

Pump and Dump

From what I read I wouldn't put it past certain dodgy operators to have made announcements with an eye to exploiting stock market movements.

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Flame

Kent Ertugrul appeared to suggest ....

er the technical term is told a barefaced lie - investors take note!

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I await with great anticipation...

the words from Virgin Media that tell me they have a new service I can opt into that will pimp my browsing habits across the internet to anyone with enough money and interest to buy into the insecure 3rd party service upon which their offering might be based.

Can't see much of a take up? But the words may be an exercise in Sophistry that would make Greek heads spin!

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Paris Hilton

"Trust us..."

"We've not signed up with Phorm to snoop on your browsing. Yet."

Webwise is offensive, intrusive and offers no advantage to users so how come it's taking VM so long to evaluate?

Perhaps because they'd love the extra income if only all the fuss would die down?

(Paris, because she can spot a good shafting without a lengthy investigation too.)

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Bronze badge

Now all they need to do...

Is announce that they will drop this whole sorry escapade and I will be a happy customer. That is at least until the next opportunity to prostitute my privacy for their own profit comes along...

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The turd's starting to smell ...

... so time to hold it at arm's length.

The next logical thing to do is drop it and wash your hands.

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Madonna

Can we get a Madonna icon, so we can use it every time a company 'adopts' something?

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Flame

About bloody time!

Why has it taken Virgin Media so long to admit publicly what they told me two weeks ago in a phone conversation?

It might have something to do with VM customers now starting to ask hard questions about whether Phorm has ever been tested on the VM network and seeking assurances from Neil Berkett that such testing has never been done. The new updated page does not give the assurance that testing hasn't been done previously. However, the rest of the page is a swift kick in the cobblers for Phorm.

Phorm's "overzealous" (bullsh**ting?) PR claims have again been exposed. Phorm seems to specialise in claiming it has done more than it actually has. I'm still waiting to see the legal opinion Phorm claim to have received.

A "document" by Charles Stanley Securities has also made suggestions about VM testing Phorm. Naturally this document got forwarded to VM top management. That has surely got to have contributed to the issuing of this statement.

Dontcha just love the internet and pissed off techies?

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Isn't lying to artificially inflate a share price a criminal offence?

Because that's what it looks like they did.

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Tim
Boffin

virgin media

This virgin media custard will be a ex custard if they even ask me to test this sh**

Then again if i test something I get payed ? (Big invoice for services ) then exit.

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Anonymous Coward

FSA should be notified about false statements affecting share price ?

Surely if Virgin Media are telling the truth then Phorm have issued false statements that would have affected the share price and misled investors. Perhaps complaints shiould be made to the FSA ?.

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Tom
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At last..

Virgin have been sitting on the fence for so long they must have splinters in their corporate arses. I wrote to them some time ago asking them to clarify their position. I made it clear that if they adopted phorm that I would be voting with my feet. They never bothered to respond, which impressed me greatly.

Another nail in kunt's coffin..

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Do it.

Do it - complain to the FSA now.

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And BT remains quiet

Phorm reminds me of Br'er Fox's tar baby; everything it touches just gets dirty.

So that's TalkTalk and Virgin backing away from Phorm's phragrant offering, leaving just one of the big three still officially onboard. Does anyone think BT can or will extricate themselves from this fiasco?

BT have cashed the cheque for my Data Protection request, so I'm looking forward to their excuse for being unable to tell me if I've been pimped.

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Cautious

Well, I am glad they have at least, eventually, said something about this whole debacle. So, sure, I am cautious but grateful they got around to speaking out.

However, as a Virgin Customer on cable, if they do decide to adopt Phorm, I will be leaving and moving to ADSL even though that means a 1MB, possibly 2MB at best connection due to the distance from the exchange. I would rather have a crap connection than have this.

Hoping for the best.

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Why don't VM just dump Phorm

before everyone dumps them?

Seriously: the moment they start testing, I'm out. I have 0 confidence in the opt-out.

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Dead Vulture

@why VM havn't just dumped phorm

the reason is simple.

there is still a possibility they could make a pot of cash IF they system goes live and not to many people vote with there feet

what all three ISP's are trying to do at the moment is gauge public opinion, work out how many will leave, how many will opt-in and the likely revenue from phorm

then it is a simple calculation,

if the overall balance is a loss due to lower income from phorm not compensating the the loss of revenue from customers leaving then no phorm

if the overall balance is positive, phorm income morethan covers the loss of income from customers leaving they will adopt phorm

the trick bit is working out the number of users leaving and the income from advertising on phorm, as OIX is an auction based system with a chicken and egg situation where you need buy in from website owners to provide space and advertisers to think there is enough traffic and advantage to palce the advert

also look at http://www.out-law.com/default.aspx?page=9090 an interesting legal opinion from pinsent mason's

also let put this argument re phorm / google to bed

web site owners allow google to profile their websites as google give something back (visitors) phorm does nothing for the site unless you are part of THEIR OIX adware ring. for no gain to me why should i allow these parasites to profit from me and visitor to my site(s)

got to be vulture as the closest thing to a dead parrot

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Happy

My goodness!

What a pack of complent Kents!

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Coat

its not spyware, its adware...

"...we only want to advertise, not spy on you, well yes we can see the whole internet, but, you know, you can trust us, after all, the big three have all agreed to use our spy *cough* antiphishing systems, well you know, signed up, erm, well looked at it, but they will use it, come on, you can trust us, don't worry you'll automatically be enroled, its so easy for you, you don't need to do anything, well err, no its always been opt in, and of course we would obtain consent, erm, except for those two trials, but erm, stop shorting our shares, agh, read our financial report, its all true, honest, you can trust us, we are really trustworthy, we, erm, welcome you to investigate our systems, no not that closely! oh, erm"

good night K*nt, don't forget to turn off the light.

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Go

How to dump Virgin Cable

badphorm have linked to this and have some advice on how to dump Virgin and not reward BT here:

http://www.badphorm.co.uk/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?2888

"BT are offering to install new lines for £29.99 until the end of June 2008 - a saving of £95 - as long as you agree to an 18 month contract with them".

Once you have the BT number you can go to one of the none pimping ISP's

Check your exchange here:

http://www.samknows.com/broadband/checker2.php

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Paris Hilton

Too late for Virgin

I already dumped them and wrote their MD a letter telling him exactly what I think of his deceitful company. I'm not making the mistake of using them again.

Is the FSA anything to do with shares? I thought they only regulated consumer financial products, Wouldn't complaining to the investigation department at the whichever Stock Exchange they are registered on be more appropriate?

Paris... She know far more about what people want.

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F*** Yeah Sure !

F*** Yeah , sure pull the other one too !

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Paris Hilton

Spoke to VM a month ago

Nice English chap in their second line tech support. He told me that as employees they were against Phorm as they use VM for their connections at home, he also said they had a wait and see policy and would take their cue from the other two involved.

Paris because if VM take up Phorm, I'd drop them faster than she can drop her drawers

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Flame

Got a reply from 10 Downing Street

Not from Gordon Brown alas, but some guy, G Edwards, who assures me that GB receives thousands of letters a week so is unable to reply to all of them, but he has been asked to forward my letter onto the Dept for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform who will reply to me direct. Anyone heard of them?

From their website:

>The five principles of good regulation

A key part of the BRE’s work has been to determine five key principles of regulation, which are now a cornerstone of the better regulation strategy and implementation. These state that any regulation should be:

* transparent

* accountable

* proportionate

* consistent

* targeted – only at cases where action is needed

Well, to my mind, Phorm are not transparent and since their software will be installed on the ISP's servers, not really accountable, since it could be doing anything in the background without the ISPs knowledge.

Here's hoping the battering continues, we just need BT to start backing away now.

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Paris Hilton

Can Paris even remember where she left her drawers?

Also: kudos to the Followers of the Great Bearded One for brutal, crystal clear transparency, even if it's a bit late, and putting the boot into Phorm.

Attn: Phorm spinners, btw: a memorandum of understanding IS NOT an agreement to trade.

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On the legality question

1. Phorm said that they had signed an agreement to deploy its technology with Virgin. This was a lie. It was not a badly-phrased suggestion, because the word "deploy" is not ambiguous. Neither was it a mistake, as it is totally inconceivable that a company could not know whether they have or have not signed a critically important contract. It was a lie.

2. "Virgin Media have agreed to use our system" means revenue from that ISP. It means you've gained a foothold in the market. It means your as yet untested system works well enough for VM to choose it. In short, it means value for the business. It means "our shares are worth more than before we signed the agreement".

3. Telling lies to increase the value of your publicly-traded shares is, indeed, a criminal offence.

I am not a lawyer or involved in regulation or anything like that, but I think these facts are sufficiently clear and simple that you don't need to be to set them out.

Phorm won't be prosecuted, of course, anymore than they'll be prosecuted for breaking RIPA. Point 1 is unambiguous to anyone who thinks about it logically for five seconds, but it's firmly within "we might get away with this" territory. Now if Phorm was a bigger company with lots of high-profile investors and sold, say, ball-bearings, and lied about a big contract to supply ball-bearings which they didn't have, they'd almost certainly be prosecuted. But they're small enough to slip under the radar, and the government won't prosecute because as has been said over and over again, *they want this*.

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Alien

bow before your new King

...taking a leaf or two from Phorm, I have decided to bless the entire population with my free Monarchy. I have already been accepted as your national leader (pending a letter to the current Monarch), and the entire wealth of the country (all £25.69) is now at my disposal (pending a cheque from the Bank of England). The armed forces are now my personal slaves (pending confirmation from the Commander in Chief) and your future is hereafter safely assured because, although I used to be psychopathic theiving manipulative barstool lacking decent morals or respect for anyone other than my hamster, I've now changed my name to Phraud. Bow, subject and supply me with anything I ask for.

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Don't celebrate too early

Note the quote from Virgin Media's Webwise page: "Webwise is a technically complex application which could be implemented in a number of different ways and it will be some months before we can confirm if the service will be made available to our customers and if so, how and when it would be deployed."

That could be read as "We're going to keep quiet until the fuss dies down, then make our move".

Don't let up the pressure - it still stinks!

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Black Helicopters

Have any of the campaigners made...

Have any of the campaigners made a compendium of Phorm spin?

So far I've heard Privacy International endorse the system, Dr Richard Clayton praises Phorm's privacy measures, We cannot know who you are, choice is an important issue, The Guardian have not dropped Phorm, opt-in/opt-out is a red herring, Google are evil, Kent is not the prince of darkness, only a small number of people are against the system, it's good for the internet, a revolution in privacy, extensive legal advice, phorm is legal, phorm is good, Phorm definately did not spark the Rwandan genocide, it can save millions, feed the starving, find Bin Laden, end the surveillance society culture, cure Leukemia, cure Aids, help Tony Blair become the first EU president, deliver a lightening bolt to Mugabe and bring back the Zimbabwean crops, end the conflict in the Congo and Sudan too, free tibet and Australia with it, end the warlord domination of columbia and reduce opium supply from the far east and break up Coldplay.

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@Tony Paulazzo

Dept for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, BERR, is the re-formed Dept for Trade & Industry, DTI.

They are responsible for government driven policy in relation to consumers, but I doubt they have much pull on this issue, it's mostly outside their remit.

The reference to regulation that you mention relates to government regulation of big business and hence has no real bearing on Phorm.

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Not so significant

VM are still supping with the devil. All this announcement means is that they're now using a longer spoon.

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Stupid Title.

Re: Slaine, £25.69??? You have to be joking. You owe Us money now. Northen Rock has taken it.

Re: Jimbo Gunn. Funnyest thing I have read all day (Well untill BOFH later.

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DEpt for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform?

DE-B-E-R-R? Deburr? Isn't that what engineers would do once they've reamed something? (If the government hasn't driven them all away yet...)

So yet another government department gets another totally unncecessary rename - what the heck for, to hide the fact that they never really did anything useful, and to make it look like Intolerance Brown and the Thought Police are trying to actually do something useful and meaningful? No sodding change there then. (But I wonder how much it cost, both the "rebranding" excercise and to change all the stationery etc)

I dread to think what would happen if this bunch were in in charge of a corporation like Shell or BP (record profits yet again) instead of just GB.

The sooner we can get rid of these (ritual self-abusers of low intellect) the better - not that any of the alternatives are that great either, but at least some of the Opposition members understand that increased government meddling & spying does not make for a better, more contented population...

In the spirit of the Roman empire, thumbs down to the lot of 'em.

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@Jimbo Gunn

"...and break up Coldplay."

If there's even an outside possibility that this is true, we owe it to ourselves and future generations to give Phorm a chance.

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So, is the smell of burning rubber...

...Virgin Media back-pedalling at high speed?

Note to all: please stop using VM for Virgin Media. I read the comments and wonder why would someone install Phorm on a virtual machine.

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Flame

cue flames but

just as a point I ht8 phorm but..

sombady has to point out the abvious pepol are asking what you get for agreeing to be phormed well what you get is

CONTUINING TO GET BROADBAND FOR A SILLEY CHEEP PRICE!!!!

seroiusley 9.99 for broadband is f cheep if you want to pay the full price look to a isp who dose not need to find other ways of subsurciding there bissness

if you want broadband for 9.99 your isp needs to make monny another way so they NEED another revinue streem

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Coat

Don't Underplay The Significance Here

How many companies do you know who are looking to partner with another company issue a public statement saying "Well actually our potential partner is talking balls!"? Neil Berkett must be rattled to say the least. Suddenly the VM Webwise page is full of ifs and tentatives. Now is the time to ram home our points and capitalise on VM's uncertainty.

So, VM customers, get writing to him - don't bother with Customer Services, write to the very top - telling him why VM should drop Phorm:

Neil Berkett

Virgin Media

PO Box 333

Matrix Court

Swansea

SA7 9ZJ

I've already reported Lynne Millar's recent comments on a finance forum to the FSA about potential market abuse and got a reply confirming the market abuse team now have the letter. A letter does seem to be the preferable method of contact:

Financial Services Authority

25 The North Colonnade

London

E14 5HS

@ Jimbo Gunn - awesome tea/keyboard moment there sir!

Mine's the jacket saying "Blond b*****d" on the back. Because Phorm deserve nothing less than a damn good kicking into non existence.

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FAO : Sir Dick Dastardly & Kunt Tru-gruel

Gentlemen, as a businessman myself I am always on the alert for new opportunities to turn over a profit and therefore warmly welcome your proposal to monetize the data streams to which you have access. However, I note with concern the omission from your proposals of any method of payment to the data providers, your customers.

As a trader in commodities and a VM customer I do not believe that you can legitimize the offence of 'trading in stolen goods' simply by providing an opt-in/opt-out choice. Under UK law it is not possible to give your consent to a criminal offence. Trust me guys, I know this from personal experience. Consequently, you will be required to acquire the data legitimately by buying it from the owners, ie your customers.

In my own case I would propose a modest payment of 10 pence per data-packet intercepted with the balance credited to my bank account on a weekly basis. Please confirm your acceptance of this proposal in writing, by return of post.

Yours, very sincerely

Delboy Trotter

Because we're all conmen now.

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Bingo

----

web site owners allow google to profile their websites as google give something back (visitors) phorm does nothing for the site unless you are part of THEIR OIX adware ring. for no gain to me why should i allow these parasites to profit from me and visitor to my site(s)

----

And that's it exactly - now, would it work if EVERY website owner explicitly forbade the use of their data in Phorm profiling, specifically the copying of any intellectual property contained on their sites?

Would this mean that Phorm would not be able to legally create any profile because they'd not be able to legally obtain the data required to make that profile?

If the news corp in Belgium could get google to remove headlines from google news on the grounds of copyright infringement, could we not all do the same thing to Phorm?

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Stop

@ michael.

I suspect your post might be an attempt at trolling, but I'll bite.

I am a customer of BT and I pay for the top "unlimited" package which is a lot more than £9.99 a month and my connection could very well get phormed soon (although hopefully not before my contract is up in a few months). I very much doubt that I will get a reduction in the price of my package or see any extra investment in the infrastructure to enable me to get more than a poxy 1Mb connection in this broadband third world country.

ISP's need to take adopt a realistic approach to broadband pricing instead of offering cheap deals with hidden restrictions and unachievable connection speeds. Data pimping is not the answer.

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Alien

You owe Us money now. Northen Rock has taken it

That's treason - hang yourself in shame subject. Anyway, the £25.69 is all that is left after uN-Labour gave everything away to shore up Northern Rock. I can prove it too - just let me write out a note to that effect and I'll put last Tuesday's date on it.

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Stop

Just thinking...

Is this Phorm think a UK only thing? I wonder if we could get, say, the makers of Firefox to block Phorm related shenanigens at the source code level, or produce an optional plug-in for the browser. Call it Phormica... Geddit?

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Stop

@ Michael

Have to say that reading your post was painful. Can I suggest writing into a word processor, spell checking and then cutting and pasting into the system?

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VM Response

I did get a reasonably quick response from VM customer services so I think as previously mentioned they've cottoned on to the fact that customers are coming to the boil. Pasted below:

"Thank you for your e-mail dated 18 April 2008 regarding your concerns

about Phorm and also Traffic Management.

I understand your concerns and would like to thank you for your

feedback, however I must stress that although Virgin Media have signed a

provisional agreement with Phorm, we still have a lot of work to do in

evaluating various aspects of any possible deployment. As a result, it

may be some months before we are in a position to confirm how and when

the solution will be implemented.

We will of course be communicating our intentions openly and

transparently and will be letting all our customers know before rolling

out the Webwise solution and we'll clearly explain how the system works

.

Ultimately customers will not be forced to use the system and will be

able to keep their Internet experience just as it is now should they

wish.

You can also be assured consumer concerns around privacy and data

protection, not to mention any adverse impact on Virgin Media's

reputation, are (and will remain) an important element in our

deliberations, dependant upon implementation we will advise any impact

to customers terms and conditions.

With regards to the traffic management or "throttling" as you mentioned,

we do not cut your broadband speed , it is just the amount of data that

is downloaded that is managed to give everyone a fair chance. For more

information please see the following link:

http://allyours.virginmedia.com/html/internet/traffic.html

To reiterate regarding PHORM, no solution has yet been implemented and

will not be until we are confident that it is compliant to do so.

For more information please see the following link:

http://www.virginmedia.com/customers/webwise.php"

To reiterate on past comments (we need to actively keep these details foremost in peoples' minds) what happens when the anti-spyware vendors decide that any Phorm opt-in/opt-out cookies/registry data are considered spyware components and subsequently and appropriately remove them. Keep up the good work, I made my position regarding Phorm perfectly clear to VM and despite the hastle it is most certainly worth giving them, or any ISP, the boot when it counts.

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@Robert Harrison

"We do not cut your broadband speed."

Utter bollocks this is EXACTLY what happens, albeit on a temporary basis. VM need to read their own web pages.

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Phorm allowed into the 'Anti-Phishing Working Group'

You're not going to believe this, but the APWG:

http://www.antiphishing.org/index.html

Has allowed Phorm to join their ranks, as you can see here:

http://www.antiphishing.org/sponsors.html

I suggest people write to the APWG and 'inphorm' them about Phorms background and illegal activities:

http://www.antiphishing.org/contactus.html

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I call BS!

One of the two statements is plainly false. I suggest it's VirginMedia's one and act accordingly. They have a habit of lieing, double billing and generally being mischievous and devious.

What's that? Shut up or I'll be in the bus lane?

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Ed
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Already done!

Have just dropped the antiphishing guys an email pointing them in the direction of El Reg.

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Phorm also phishes

When you request a website and you are taken to some other server that pretends to be the website you want, this is classed as phishing.

During the illegal trials and if phorm does go live on ISP networks phorm wil phish the customers. It is totaly wrong to allow them into such a position this Kent is a swarmy guy the type that can sell sand to the arabs.

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