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back to article Phorm moves beyond privacy - except when slating rivals

Phorm wheeled out its new chairman last night - the former Tory chancellor Norman Lamont - to steward the second town hall meeting since it leapt out of stealth mode and straight into a privacy firestorm just over a year ago. And what a year it's been. After relentless pillorying in the press, the one-time pariah's reputation …

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Gold standard? ? ? ?

I would certainly like to know what this "Gold" standard of privacy is..

If it involves opt-out rather than opt-in, then its almost certainly fools gold.... (which is common currency in the world of advertising!).

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Ian

It's all old news

I went to the meeting last year, ranted at the speakers, and then went back to Simon Davies' flat and ranted at Mark Burgess (nice bloke) and his sister who is their marketing chief (nice woman).

But then I got a clue and just switched ISP to one that's not involved in the trials. Doing that flushed out a few ISP-dependencies in how I was operating, which mean that I would now find it much easier to switch again if I needed to. Well done BT: ditching you as an ISP, plus the opportunity to rationalise some other spending I do with you, chopped £350 per year off your revenues: how many Phorm users will it take to replace that?

So I didn't bother going this year. It doesn't affect me immediately, it's likely they'll run out of cash before BT stir up the hornets' nest of deploying and I now have the option of just running an IPsec tunnel to a suitable proxy if I have to. Duke Nuke'em will be released before it's a real risk.

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Flame

Phorm's so-called gold standard.

Their idea of a "privacy stance" is goatse.

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Anonymous Coward

Thank God for Phorm ...

... saviours of the human race.

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Flame

Ahem...

Quite aside from the privacy issue, is the fact that my surfing history is a product of my own fair mind, and as such, should be subject to copyright. If Phorm wish to record and exploit my copyrighted work, especially for financial gain, they should bloody well compensate me for it.

It's MY intellectual property and I should be able to determine how, when and where it gets used. We sorely need a court case and a legal precedent.

I wouldn't be happy if all the details of who I call on my phone and how long I spend chatting to them were used to make profit either. If I made a phone call to my local Thai restaurant to book a meal, and a couple of days later I got a text message from a rival restaurant who had paid for my phonecall log, I'd be furious. So I'm furious about Phorm, too. It's the SAME DAMN THING.

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g e
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Ah but

You volutarily provide the information to Farcebook and in a broad sense, Google.

No choice with Phorm unless you know you can opt out and where to do it, and indeed TOLD it's even there in the first place.

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Phorm having Norman Lamont as CEO

Is somewhat like trying to attract lovers with a dead rat hanging round your neck.

Couldn't they get someone classier - like David Blunkett?

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Paris Hilton

Give phorm some respect

... after all they did make a lot of effort to clarify their position and to respond to queries with properly thought through non-emotive and well substantiated arguments. Didn't they?

... oh wait...

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Cool.

That Kent Ertugrul seems like a standup guy. Where can I sign up for this Phorm thingie then?

It sounds great.

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Stop

Please...

close the company down, seeing it involuntarily twitch as it slowly dies is becoming painful.

I'm sure Marc Burgess and his Russian codeing crew can come up with some other technological wonder product that Kent can promote that we would all love.

Stop wasting your time with Webwise boys, move on and regain some self respect.

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Face it People

PHORM is coming in whether we like it or not as it will sit very comfortably with Wacky Jacqui plans for global surveillance. And its free at point of use!!

Think about it:

Innocent people on the DNA Database

Against the law according to the Europe

Kiddie Uberdatabase

Our children's names are not on it. One rule for us another for you

RIPA

Illegal surveillance made legal. I can use this law to justify anything

Surveillance

Nothing to hid nothing to fear.

What we want doesn't matter. These are the days where police can shoot an innocent man in the head and push guys around in the street. Face it people this is a police state where we are all guilty! Laws are there to protect others. Not us

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feature creep?

no mention of the creation of "Internet Editors" or "Direct Stream Injection" Advertising then?

Phail.

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Stop

I don't get it

If I'm an online publisher or trader, how does scraping content from my site help me? All that will happen is that traffic will be driven away from me and towards Phorm affiliate sites.

I lose out - unless I sign up with Phorm.

And if everybody does that, we're no further forward. There's no net gain, the web is not "saved". The only thing that happens is everyone is a little poorer and Kent becomes very rich.

Oh, wait...

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Anonymous Coward

If Phorm Is So Phucking Legal And Wonderful

Then why haven't they published verifiable legal opinion confirming that Webwise is in fact legal and not as others contend, breaking the European Privacy regulations. They have been asked several times to do just that.

Why haven't Phorm answered the detailed questions posed on https://nodpi.org?

Why hasn't the "official" video footage from last year's event been published? There is unedited "unofficial" footage at http://tobymeres.net

Why have Phorm employed PR companies to try and twist online discussions about Phorm?

If Phorm was an open, honest company, perceived to be of a reasonable ethical standing then it might well have a better reputation.

Phorm obviously has something to hide. Why else doesn't Kent Ertegrul answer the simple, direct questions that have and continue to be put to him by anti Phorm campaigners?

He wants to move on, he doesn't like being "here" where people challenge his company, what his company does, his previous history and the legality of the Webwsie product.

Sorry Kent, we're going to keep dragging you back here and keep hammering home the plain and simple fact that WEBWISE IS ILLEGAL until you prove verifiably that your "product" is legal.

Nothing that you can do or say is going to stop that.

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Full Understanding

I fully understand their system. They're spying on what I do and using that information for their own personal gain.

As far as I'm concerned, they do not have permission to monitor any of my communications, nor store any of their information (i.e. a cookie) on my system. Any system that requires the latter in order to achieve the former is seriously flawed.

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The end of media earning from advertising?

"Except that there's only so much that advertisers can spend on net advertising. If the pot goes ever broader, perhaps the likes of the New York Times and Guardian might not be able to invest in quality journalism. We'd be stuck with, presumably, a lot of bloggers posting emotive statements."

I do hope that some of the press who were at the meeting are able to do the maths and discover that Phorm will be offering more revenue to Mom and Pop sites and less to media. No wait, a year ago Phrom were saying the Mom & Pop sites would be earning, now they are offering the revenue to the media.

So, which is it?

With current advertising budgets web pages can't fill their advertising real estate with enough adverts to cover the overheads. With advertisers being charged a premium for BTA offerings there will be even fewer adverts to spread around. I recall Phorm claiming that web pages would not need so many ad slots. What they failed to say was that web pages would have to be redesigned to avoid empty white spaces. Is the glass half full or half empty?

It sure sounds like Phorm's cupboard is getting empty.

Nothing to offer the websites whose content is copied to the profiler. HTTPS is a lot cheaper than allowing Phorm to harvest all that commercially sensitive data and divert trade away from commercial websites.

Diminishing returns to sites who rely on selling advertising real estate.

ISP customers getting that 'creepy feeling' as what they have done then appears in the adverts, following them from one site to the next.

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Paris Hilton

So good it needs to be repeated twice

PHORM is coming in whether we like it or not as it will sit very comfortably with Wacky Jacqui plans for global surveillance. And its free at point of use!!

Think about it:

Innocent people on the DNA Database

Against the law according to the Europe

Kiddie Uberdatabase

Our children's names are not on it. One rule for us another for you

RIPA

Illegal surveillance made legal. I can use this law to justify anything

Surveillance

Nothing to hid nothing to fear.

What we want doesn't matter. These are the days where police can shoot an innocent man in the head and push guys around in the street. Face it people this is a police state where we are all guilty! Laws are there to protect others. Not us

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i'm confused

.. an advertising and 'information collecting' company (which plans to sell that information) who cares passionately about our privacy? (-chough, to a *gold standard* -snort,choke). something is just not right about this rosy picture being painted here.

i fail to believe the spytards.

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Coat

Tax efficient, no doubt

I saw Norman Lamont on a flight to Jersey a few months back. Nice to see the 'good' gentleman is looking after himself, both in terms of work and being tax efficient about it.

Hang on, isn't he vying with Gordon Brown for "Worst Chancellor Since The 70s" award?

Mine's the one with the duty free ciggies in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Emotive statements

Is this the same guy who heckled Sir Tim Berners-Lee at Parliament to the point where he had to be shut up by one of his own people? He'll know all about emotive statements then, won't he.

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Tom
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if users really object to Phorm, the company and its technology will simply fade away

Promises, Promises.

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Anonymous Coward

Network level opt-out?

How will the "network level opt-out" work? How will I sign up for that opt-out? Err, hang on, isn't anything but "opt-in" illegal?

This system looks more and more doubtful as time goes on. I don't think Phorm is going to be around for much longer.

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Here's the thing

Phorm might be right in saying other companies are already doing naughty things with our data, but there's one key difference... choice.

I *choose* to use Google's services because they're pretty good, I know it's making money by selling information about me even if I don't know the how. If it really started worrying me, I could easily stop using Google's services and use alternatives.

If Phorm becomes widespread inthe UK, that choice will be gone, I simply cannot see how any company that offers a "personalised" service, can claim to be anonymous and private! It has to know who you are to personalise things.

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Anonymous Coward

Phorm needs to live a bit longer.

It's illegality needs to be firmly established.

If phorm were to die soon (and with another set of disastrous results due soon it may be within a few weeks), before the legal situation is clarified, we run the risk of it just being replaced by another company. One that is competent this time.

Oh yes, we need the phorm/BT/Branson axis.

So come on phorm, deep breaths ... that's it ... and again. There now, feeling better?

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Flame

Phuck the lot of them.

What i really want to know is who isnt in bed with this Scum Suckin Dirt Merchants, so i know where best to take my (current) BT buck.

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Anonymous Coward

It's just poor business planning.

By trying to do business in South Korea, they disqualify themselves from one of their few natural markets.

Just across the Northern border.

Perhaps phorm needs a new Dear Leader?

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RW

How Google and Phorm differ

Yes, Google are a bunch of snoops determined to plaster ads across your monitor come hell or high water. Just like Phorm.

But with this difference: Google delivers something useful to those whose privacy it invades: StreetView, Google search, Gmail, Google Earth. There's an element of quid pro quo in their method. Phorm? Doesn't do anything for those it snoops on except slow down their internet access.

There's also the major difference that Google puts ads on web pages with consent. Phorm proposes to vandalize web pages with advertising graffiti the web page owner has not agreed to.

Ertugrul impresses me as someone who had a bright idea with major flaws in it and now just can't accept that his bright, but badly flawed, idea is being rejected by all thinking people. His track record of involvement in some kind of obscure malware operation leads me to believe that his ethical and moral facilities have been cauterized as a result, hence he simply doesn't understand the objections to Phorm. Or maybe he does, and his apparent ethical blindness is nothing more than an attempt to prevent a golden opportunity from slipping through his fingers.

Or maybe those two analyses are really just two sides of the same coin, as greed for the almighty dollar usually goes hand-in-hand with a shortfall on the ethics side, witness the current banking meltdown.

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3x2

Scumware

<...>emotive story tellers are ignoring Phorm's work in setting the "gold standard" in privacy for the internet advertising industry<...>

He really does remind me of the old Iraqi Information Minister. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.

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Anonymous Coward

Now that my friends in comedy

"Gold Standard in Internet privacy" Orly? You really did have to pull that same tired bull shit marketing line out didn't you. I'm not in the UK so this doesn't concern me directly (at least not right now) but I just had to comment. I've been following this story with interest because deluded twits like this Ertugrul dude are such great sources of comedy material, well that and they are proof that some people need to be removed from the gene pool ASAP. Now he pulls that "gold standard" line out, to funny. Since anyone with a half a brain knows that that line is totally utterly completely 1000% meaningless. Doubly meaningless when it's coming from the likes of Kent Ertugrul and Phrom.

Kunt...err I mean Kent let me tell you something, you're whining about the "haters" and crying about "people just don't want to understand us" and trotting out of hollow meaningless lines like "gold standard internet privacy" aren't fooling anyone. People see through you, your company and your pathetic attempts to shift focus away from what you and your company are really trying to do and have done to a limited degree in the past. No one wants Phrom, no one likes Phrom and as a matter of fact from what I can tell about 99.99% of the UK population would be more than happy to see Phrom shut down and 100% it's assets disbursed to the victims of your first illegal trial. In addition to probably being very happy to see you tared and feathered then paraded around the busiest city and town centers like the chicken shit scum bag you are.

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Anonymous Coward

Trust an ex Spyware company boss?

No? Me neither! Good riddance Phorm/Webwise.

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Alert

As Kent said

"if users really object to Phorm, the company and its technology will simply fade away"

I think you know what you have to do.

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Thought you might like to know

In January I wrote to my (Labour) MP about this sorry state of affairs. It took two reminders to get just an acknowledgement in March.

I'm not holding my breath of an actual reply :(

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Gold Standard?

When considering this expression, just think of what our esteemed PM did to the gold market (and the country's finances) a few years go.

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Educate the websites you use about Phorm

Many of us feel quite powerless to prevent the rollout of Phorms Webwise system. One thing we can do however is convince the websites that we use to request to be added to the exclusion list.

Today I convinced Livejournal.com to request addition of their domain and all of its subdomains to the exclusion list: <a href="https://secure.grepular.com/blog/index.php/2009/04/08/livejournal-opt-out-of-phorm/">Livejournal opt-out of Phorm Webwise</a>

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@ D@v3:

From your point of view, PHORM is really irrelevant. You should have sacked BT off by now anyway, because they're rubbish. The current foofaraw is merely the icing on the cake.

Seriously, why does anyone with a choice use BT?

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Stop

So Kent wants facts

Here is a fact for you Kent:

I won't use an ISP that uses phorm

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Anonymous Coward

Hypocrites

"Ertugrul then bravely went there, saying that if users really object to Phorm, the company and its technology will simply fade away, “but I'm struck by the fact there's some people who seem to be quite intent on not understanding how our system works.”"

Phorm are hypocrites. Talk about "emotive statements". There are some people who have gone to great lengths to understand how their system works. Their conclusions have been less than flattering and raise many questions on legality and privacy. Questions which Phorm have ignored or spun.

http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2008/04/04/the-phorm-webwise-system/

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Can someone please explain

What's the point of sending me adverts about what I was interested in yesterday?

I saw it and, if I needed it, I bought it: I am no longer interested.

Tell me about what I'll be interested in tomorrow and I may think that's useful.

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Happy

@Will Godfrey

Will,

Name your MP.

There will be plenty of people here willing to politely write to your MP to inform them that they need to produce a considered reply to a constituent.

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Gates Halo

remember the official BT DPI pic's, buckets of FAIL..

"Tech boss Marc Burgess reassured the audience that all the upcoming UK deployments will have “network level opt-out”, meaning dissenting users details will not go anywhere near Phorm's black boxes.

"

hmm Joe Fay , you might be FAR more careful with your quoting...

am i to understand that "meaning dissenting users details _will not go anywhere near_ Phorm's black boxes." is in fact your POV and NOT a real spoken quote from Burgess ?....

its been *Proven* with the official old BT network layout pictures Etc (linked here at Elreg Phorm threds somewere), that infact NO matter what the legal status of the UK opt-out/in ,

your DATA IS ALWAYS GOING THROUGH THE Deep Packet Inspection kit, and being processed.......

it cant be any other way, as they need to find their illegal 3rd party cookie data stored on your PC without permission, and Process YOUR Personal datastream to see if you have opted In or out remember..... Catch22, buckets of FAIL, and a side plate of Illegal interception that the likes of Norman Lamont want to ignore etc..... wholes sale commercial piracy of the websites data amd your data, thats a REAL CRIMINAL OFENCE, if some one wants to really enforce that current law.....

DPI wants to use my content, content,content, PAY ME, PAY ME, PAY ME

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Pirate

@ Fluffykins

I'm interested in the lottery numbers for Saturday, if phorm can tell me those then it will have my full support. Otherwise it just confirms my original opinion that it's shit and should stay in the sewer it came from.

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Alert

You can stop this

@Dennis

Get a backbone and start fighting this.

Get complaining. Write to your MP, the CPS, the ICO, and the EC.

Try this for starters;

https://www.dephormation.org.uk/letters/

If you're with BT move ISP now. Don't hesitate. Need help? http://www.getamaccode.co.uk/

Cancel every service you have with BT, phones, broadband, TV the lot. So they feel the pain in their bank balance. BT desperately need your money at the moment; take it all away from them.

And boycott BTs other businesses too, like Dabs.

You don't have to tolerate Phorm. And if you care about private personal/commercial communication services, you shouldn't tolerate it on UK soil.

If you don't take action to stop it you face losing all right to private unencrypted communication.

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Gates Horns

A scratched record just keeps on jumping

“but I'm struck by the fact there's some people who seem to be quite intent on not understanding how our system works.”

Sadly for laughing boy, the better you understand his spyware, the worse the whole thing gets. I don't care about targeted ads (ABP), I don't care about anonymisation (since I shouldn't be profiled without explicit permission), but I DO care about my communications being intercepted in the first place. Any interception whatever at my ISP violates my privacy, and that is what I object to, all else merely follows on. The only 'standard' this sets is a Gold Standard in theft and intrusion.

And the muppet still refuses to engage re the other party to the interception; the website. There are standard ways to opt out from having your site scanned; a crawler specific robots.txt extry, NOT an email to Spyware boy's data harvesting drones.

Every site owner should ban all BTs IPs until they play by the rules - not accept that they have to beg to be excluded from fattening phorms bottom line.

Lamont as your punter-moistening pin up boy? Ha ha ha!

Devil Bill, cos he's less of an arsehole

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Tom
Alert

phorm@home

I think that while phorm will probably fail in its own time, a good course of action would be for someone to set up seti@home style program that we can all run and which fills Phorms assets with bogus internet activity, rendering it unvaluable to any advertisers..

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Boffin

Forced titles are for losers

"but I'm struck by the fact there's some people who seem to be quite intent on not understanding how our system works"

The problem for Phorm is people /do/ understand how their system works, which is why we know it's illegal under British law directly, under European law and a combination of the above, which is why if the government don't do anything about it they're going to end up costing the British tax payer millions upon millions in fines.

Just because the police haven't read RIPA, the Data Protection Act and the Telecommunications Act (among others) and hence don't know that what they're doing is a criminal offence which involves prison terms for directors of years in prison for each offence, doesn't mean it isn't. If this stuff ever gets rolled out I'll be calling the police to report a crime, I don't know about other people.

I personally don't need false assurances, I know what they're doing is a criminal offence (yes officer, a /criminal/ offence - not a civil matter), and when it's committed against myself I'll be calling the police and complaining to the IPCC when they do nothing about it.

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Paris Hilton

Bad financial Phorm

Apologies for the pun.

Phorm is dead. The rhetoric comnig out here, plus the installation of Norman Lamont, screams that the company is about to go down the pan like the polished turd it is.

All hail the victory for people power: they simply can't recover from the accusations that they're illegal (which were in the national press and widely reported, remember) and no amount of bullish posturing can gloss over what people now associate with them.

Factor into the mix the general foul public mood regarding organisations holding data about aspects of life and behaviour and I think we're looking at Phorm being quietly folded in a few months.

However, my guess would be that given the general state of panic and desperation amongst the advertising fraternity (only the other day I read reports that online advertising doesn't work, and TV advertising has a stupidly low usefulness) the technology will be sold to someone else who will - surprise surprise - try the stealth tactic again.

So - those of you who broke this story and got BT hauled over the coals a little - steel yourselves and be ready for round two!

In the meantime, let's pour a glass of cheap champagne and toast as the USS Phorm quietly slips under the surface like the holed-beneath-the-water little brown fish it is.

<Paris, because her Phorm is at least worth admiring occasionally, brown paper bag permitting>

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Anonymous Coward

@Ian - It's all old news

That all sounds great, but IF Phorm ever gets off the ground then the revenue available to ISP will mean that inside of 12 months you won't find a single ISP in the country who isn't using it. So if you really think that it doesn't effect you then that's fine, bury your head up your backside and whistle. It will affect you eventually.

As for other ISPs. The only alternatives I have to BT in my area are vendors using BT Wholesale, so it's still going through BT's network - how could I be sure that my traffic is going nowhere near Phorm's boxes? And I relish the fact that I get a rock solid download speed from BT. Regardless of the time of day my 8 meg is 8 meg. Neighbours with IPStream ISPs report download speeds peaking at about 2-300kbps in the evening. Saving money? That would depend on whether you think bandwidth matters and whether the word contention ratio means anything to you ISP. The cheap ISPs are generally cheap because they've skimped on the bandwidth they have from BT central, so at busy times you are sharing too little bandwidth with too many users.

Of course if any of these ISPs really cared about the quality of service they give to their customers they would either buy more bandwidth into BT central or better yet put in their own infrastructure.

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Happy

Iraqi Information Minister

Haha. I'd forgotten all about him! Thank you for brightening up my day.

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Short Story

So, to cut a long story short, we should trust Phorm, because we _can't_ trust Google?

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Gates Horns

round two: the mobile and Credit Reference agences use of Deep Packet Inspection/Interception

its pritty simple, we already know what round two will be/already IS:

the mobile and Credit Reference agences use of Deep Packet Inspection/Interception to commercially pirate your personal data flows, another criminal offence BTW Mr DC of the yard....

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