back to article Meet Phorm's PR genius

Your reporter's reaction to Phorm's publishing of a delusional attack blog this week was one of confusion: what troubled mind could have fathered such a downright weird attempt at rebuttal? We're indebted this morning, then, to The Guardian's Charles Arthur, who today reveals was the idea of a new "adviser" …


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  1. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up


    "Patrick does not claim credit for launching Stopphoulplay but wholeheartedly supports the initiative." AND HE SHOULD ENJOY OUR VOCAL AND UNEQUIVOCAL SUPPORT WHILE HE DOES SO! Let's face it, if he's such a champion of something which involves Ertegrul's merry men happily and hyperbolically shooting themselves in the arse, we should be all for it...

  2. Joe K
    Thumb Up



    When they make the movie of all this, and they will, i vote Kunt to be played by Steve Carroll, that guy out of The Office US and 40yr old Virgin.

  3. Ash
    Thumb Up

    There are no words...

    except; EPIC. WIN.

    I wish I had six thumbs, so I could stick them all up.

  4. Dennis


    I can stop worrying about PHORM then

    Carry on

  5. HamsterWheel
    Dead Vulture

    Petard hoisted

    So is this the same The Rgister that was just whining that it wasn't anti-Phorm ?

    Guilty as charged.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does it go?

    Show me your friends and I'll show you who you are...

    or some variation thereof.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    food for the thought for some of the Register collaborators

    Maybe you at the Register should think about these nice tory members before endorsing the hidden agenda of anti-Brown campaign.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Nice to know that the chaps at Phorm are keeping such upright company.

    Yarrr! to the "Privacy Pirates".

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Re: food for the thought for some of the Register collaborators

    Andy S. writes, "Maybe you at the Register should think about these nice tory members before endorsing the hidden agenda of anti-Brown campaign."

    Oh, because as far as the Britards are concerned there are only two political parties: Labour and non-Labour? Just like there were only two parties back in the day: Tory and non-Tory? Cue whining about how a vote for anyone else is wasted, reviving the self-fulfilling prophesy of the Britards.

  10. toby robertson

    there goes the campaign...

    outstanding phorm! well, just as it appears they can't get anymore negative publicity it transpires that their publicity man/muppet has a track record comparable to that of his former clients eg. pinochet, aiken etc. etc.

    these guys just need to wind this whole debacle up, I'm not sure who, in their right mind, would even consider using them after this spectacular balls up from beginning to end.

    these daily revelations are keeping my schandenfreud levels impressively high.

  11. biznuge
    Black Helicopters

    cock piss partridge...

    I just watched their flash movie, and am now much more into what phorm does.

    I can totally see why they should be allowed to track my every move now, so as to make money out of the trail that I leave on the internet. Oh what a beautiful day, when a company that offers me nothing in return,can use me as a carthorse for their demographic warez...

    for shame el reg for ever spurning this glorious product...

  12. Steve

    @ HamsterWheel

    Isn't everyone anti-Phorm?

    Even after their illegal user profiling with BT you must be against them?

    Are you on their payroll?

  13. Steve

    @ Andy S

    Hi Andy, are you new here?

    El Reg isn't exactly aligned with any party, or each other afaik...

  14. Christopher Rogers

    @conspiracy theorists

    So you think el Reg is against Phorm? Well, your tinfoil hats will be no use when your being tracked round the internets.

  15. MnM

    beautifully private-eye-esque

    Rotten Boroughs, Reg-style. Like it!

    May Ertugrul try daggering Greer on Have I Got News for You

  16. Michael Hudson
    Thumb Up


    I thought I was reading Private Eye then for a minute.

  17. Kevin

    Liquidated Phorm Assets?

    "the possibility that it will simply flame out, and a surviving company - perhaps BT itself? - may buy the technology on the cheap from the receivers."

    SOLD! to a Ms J.Smith...!

  18. ElFatbob

    just goes to show that...

    shite attracts shite...

  19. Stephen Jones

    @Andy S

    The hidden agenda of the anti-brown campaign is that we vote Lib Dem?

  20. David S
    Thumb Down

    Yes. Woot and all that.

    I can't help feeling, though, that these guys are the ones who are laughing. I mean, we can spot all the connections and make all the fun we want, but at the end of the day this outfit is busily worming its way into the soft, yielding guts of our IT infrastructure with the blessing of the establishment and there seems to be very little that anyone can actually do about it.

    I mean, really. What can you and I actually do about this? Other than point and sneer and feel clever? And don't say vote for the other guys next time, because I don't think there's a political force in the world which is immune to the power of the brown envelope.

    Incredibly poorly thought-out this may be. Borderline illegal it certainly is. But it's also well-funded and well-supported politically, which means it's a coup d'etat. It's happening whether you like it or not, and THEY get to be smug.

    Prove me wrong. Please.

  21. Eponymous Cowherd

    Re:How does it go?

    Wassup, Hammy?

    Finally realising your investment in the Phorm disaster is gone for good?

    Tough titties, mate. You should have chosen you investments more wisely and more ethically.

    The "Privacy Pirate", He's fighting the good fight against DPI spyware.

  22. Adam Silver badge

    Libel insurance paid up?

    Very brave to write article about one of Goldsmith's friends.

  23. Ian

    Something phishy about phorm.

    Does anyone else not think there's something odd about the whole Phorm thing, Something that goes beyond just a bunch of greedy twats wanting to steal our data for money? The fact the home office colluded with them, the fact the police refuse to investigate them, the fact they have people in various government departments and so on?

    For a company that to anyone with any idea about technology appears doomed to fail because of the inherent invasion of privacy it creates it seems to have a lot of support from a lot of people in the right circles.

    I can't help but wonder if perhaps Phorm is actually backed by perhaps Jacqui Smith and her ilk or perhaps even people in the security services as a way to snoop on people without arousing suspicion.

    Even the music industry, despite having vastly more resources struggles to get the kind of political and police support that Phorm has despite the music industry having a potential future if it changes it's ways, unlike Phorm that has a very short lived future.

  24. Pete
    Dead Vulture

    Well said Andy S.

    The Register's anti-Brown agenda of late has been disquieting. I'm no fan of how this government has turned out but the Reg has attacked it at times for no discernible reason, giving the impression that the attacks have been wholly politically-motivated, a real shame for my favourite IT site.

    Phorm? Truly the enfant horrible of technology, commercialism and the rampant "big brother" mentality. It doesn't surprise me that they're getting together with such a bed-fellow. May all their problems be humongous ones.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    A big thank you to Phorm

    First - hello Hamster Wheel and hope you are well. What a surprise to see you here. Always a pleasure to cross cutlasses with you in a comment column. If you are doing the rounds of the supposedly anti-phorm press articles, you'd better weigh anchor and sail on quickly, because there is an awful lot of ground to cover today. Pirates everywhere.

    Secondly - a big big heartflet thank you to Phorm and Patrick Robertson. We couldn't have achieved those wal-to-wall headlines without you. To think - we used to get excited when just one cautiously written article appeared near the bottom of the BBC Technology website. Now there are three big stories about Phorm all at the same time. And journalists we didn't even know the names of, have now discovered Phorm, and are writing about it fulsomely. All thanks to you, and that sword of truth you have always wielded so effectively.

    Thirdly - a confession. Yes the PR campaign against Phorm is commercially funded. PHORM are doing the best anti-phorm PR that is available. They do our reputation management, and charge us not a schilling. They whip up the press for us and manage to set journalists teeth on edge. They aggravate and embarrass the media and advertising community for us. They alienate potential supporters for us. And we are SO grateful. But it wasn't our idea honest, Phorm seem to have thought up that one themselves.

    We really couldn't have got this far on our own. We owe it all to Phorm and let's not forget BT for setting the scene. Thanks for the covert trials BT. Without them people might have swallowed the Phorm PR. Thanks for sticking with Phorm - well - sort of silently vaguely sticking with them. Without your help this story might have died away months ago.

    And the biggest thank you of all - to the person called "Admin" (real name as yet unpublished) who writes (and amends) the articles on Stop Phoul Play. You were the icing on the cake. You were the flame that finally lit the blue touchpaper. We saw the covert trial of smears in - and the full public technical trial in Stop Phoul Play. We now await the full rollout - when they roll Phorm out the country and back to Delaware.

    Do visit the new pirate-themed campaign site at me hearties. Lots of privacy pirates there just waiting to greet you, and a special pirate welcome thread for newcomers, Aaaarh!

  26. Hans

    @ Ash

    [quote] I wish I had six thumbs, so I could stick them all up [/quote]

    and where, exactly, would you wish to stick all 6 of these thumbs up? Hmm?

  27. DutchOven
    Paris Hilton

    RE: Petard hoisted


    You don't have to actively campaign against something to report accurately, now do you?

    El Reg doesn't froth at the mouth like the Daily Fail about Garry Glitter's terrible record in child-minding because they don't need to, everyone knows about it already. Here we have a lot of people who know about IT and IT security and privacy issues and they tell it how it is... which is a very good thing because if you fail to understand the issues involved then you're not going to be able to make an informed opinion!

    Actually, now that I think about it the only thing Phorm could now do that would damage them more is to hire Gary Glitter as PR spokesman...

    Paris, 'cos she knows about web privacy and isn't daft enough to hire Patrick Robertson either...

  28. Sean Barry


    You wouldn't be the same as LegendHamsterwheel posting on the BBC website would you? The one who's a Phorm shareholder/ employee?

    The facts of Phorms functionality are clear, the history of those involved with the company likewise. Based on an understanding of these facts many people simply don't want Phorm - The registers coverage is in my view pretty plain speaking.

  29. Jan



    Excellent! *rubs his hands*


  30. Ash
    IT Angle


    [quote] I wish I had six thumbs, so I could stick them all up [/quote]

    and where, exactly, would you wish to stick all 6 of these thumbs up? Hmm?

    I've a vivid imagination and a catering vat of margarine. Sometimes it's best not to ask these questions.

  31. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Peanuts for Monkeys

    Crikey, with billions on the planet, they hire a loser to handle a sensitive cause. What on earth were they not thinking? Have BT No Imagination? And don't answer that rhetorical question for it is perfectly paired with the other one... Where is the BBC Creativity Department ? Two Lost Souls in a New Virtual World.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    A business model build on wiretapping

    Is never going to win that company friends, even if they find a serpentine path through the Law to make their wiretapping legal. Advertising based on deep packet inspection is the equivalent of a phone company listening in on all of your phone calls, and then presenting you with ads based on the topics you discuss with those you chat with. The companies promoting advertising based on deep packet inspection are really trying to convince authorities that, again using the phone analogy, most people, after or during an intimate phone call with their wife/husband or girl/boy friend, would love it for the phone company to break into the call and try to sell the callers a new birth control, personal lubricant, or intimate apparel product.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Out of his depth

    Patrick Robertson might have been good at championing lost causes and running smear campaigns back in the days when names like Lamont meant something but he hasn't quite got the hang of the Internet has he? Phucking Noob!

    "The Angry Activist"

    "The Concerned Consumer"

    "The Media Mouthpiece"

    Does Patrick also dream up the names for Ubuntu releases because they're almost perfect?

    So now he's made Phorm look a right bunch of Kents what's next I wonder?

    Send in Hessletine's Hippy Killing Panzers no doubt?

  34. Moss Icely Spaceport

    "What an interesting career", indeed.

    What an interesting bunch of crooks, bastards and down right bottom feeders....

  35. Darren Sandford

    @HamsterWheel BBC comments...

    ... these comments, you mean?

    "4. At 11:21am on 28 Apr 2009, LegendHamsterwheel wrote:

    All these agitators complaining about a British company creating British jobs should be ashamed of their traitorous behaviour.

    Time they found a real issue to waste their time on.


    "9. At 11:47am on 28 Apr 2009, LegendHamsterwheel wrote:

    I am not a Phorm employee. I have no connection with them other than as a shareholder and someone who thinks they have a great model for creating BRITISH jobs.

    As usual, the tinfoilhat-wearing Luddites try to smear anyone who is remotely in favour of Phorm."

    I noticed that the second comment was deleted by a moderator from tbe BBC website. I wonder why? Nothing nasty in there. Only thing I can think of is that our friend HamsterWheel asked for it to be deleted, to hide the fact that he/she is a shareholder in the company they are so avidly defending.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Privacy International are a joke

    Hilarious - The Phorm blog is now quoting Simon Davies aka Privacy International.

    Simon Davies is a paid consultant to Phorm and produced a glowing report on Phorm (a system which highly invades our privacy).

    SD is a paid consultant to Microsoft and has heavily criticised Google Streetview.

    What do you think is a bigger invasion to our privacy -- Google Streetview or a deep packet inspection system that everyone is opted into without being asked.

    To me this all just goes to show that PI will say whatever companies want if they get enough cash in consultancy fees and it's total rubbish that they stand for consumer privacy.

  37. Jimmy
    IT Angle

    @ Andy S.

    There is no "hidden agenda of anti-Brown campaign", here. What you do have is a fully justified, up-front determination to punish the most illiberal, repressive, and incompetent government we have ever had. What you read in the comment area of El Reg is an entirely spontaneous reaction by users of the site to control-freak politicos who treat us like disposable cyphers whose only function is to subsidise the lifestyle of the rich and the greedy .

    It's true that you won't find much anti-Tory sentiment here, but when we have a New Tory government next year you can be damned sure that they will be subjected to the same examination and criticism as the present bunch of halfwits if they try to implement the same shit as New Labour.

    FFS, please don't ask what the IT angle is - this is the 21st century and we are living in a wired world. Get over it.

  38. David

    @Steve (Re HamsterWheel)

    According to HamsterWheel's post's on the BBC Technology blog, he's not a Phorm employee, just a shareholder. However he does have a habit of aggressively referring comments to moderators (including mine when I asked the very question you've asked) and he seems to believe that anyone who doesn't support Phorm (which he claims is a British company that will provide British jobs) is a traitor (his words, not mine) so I suspect (and in the interest of fairness I have no proof) he actually works for one of the myriad PR companies that Phorm have employed to spin themselves in a good light. Maybe they gave him shares instead of paying him a wage?

    Yaar, I be a Privacy Pirate!

  39. tobyr
    Thumb Down


    the game is up Wheely, best you get off back home now and look up some more dubious companies to invest in, and as for you playing the "british jobs" card, you should be ahamed of yourself...but then again, anyone who invests in a company this despicable has a moral compass that is in serious need of realignment.


  40. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Petard hoisted

    You only have to google 'HamsterWheel phorm' to judge who actually has a vested interest in Phorm's success or phailure. Clue: It's not El Reg.

  41. HamsterWheel
    Dead Vulture

    @ Darren Sandford

    No idea why the comment was taken down by a Beeb mod. Certainly wasn't me. Happy to be a Phorm shareholder.

    Happy that Phorm are creating British jobs (some of you may need to look this word up).

    Happy to call you lot tinfoilhatwearing Luddites.

  42. Tony

    @ @HamsterWheel BBC comments...

    'All these agitators complaining about a British company creating British jobs should be ashamed of their traitorous behaviour.'

    All I can say is that it is a crying shame that the crack cocaine industry isn't open to public investment as I am sure HamsterWheel would be first in the queue. After all it is a large British Industry creating British jobs.. And probably a better investment than Phorm as at least their customers actually want the illegal shit they are peddling.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    El Reg's anti-Brown agenda

    What anti-Brown agenda?

    Afaict they haven't even mentioned (34000+ signatures since Friday, and rising).

  44. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


    So tell me Mr Shill, how does this instrusive technology create BRITISH jobs [sic], above and beyond generating money for a bunch of morally dubious sounding gentlemen from profiling our use of the internet. Or are Phorm proposing to pay us for the use of our internet traffic - indeed so much that the extent of these payments could be considered a full time job?

    idiot shill.

  45. Ian Halstead
    Thumb Up

    Capitalism trumps privacy

    Where there's money to be made, and privacy to be trampled on in the process, it certainly encourages the unscrupulous to float to the top.

    It's our power to deny them an easy buck that wrankles with them. Really wrankles. One set of very warm heart cockles here.

    Thank you El Reg for providing a fat pipe for that power to flow down.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hello Hammy, Kent got you out of your box again? You didnt have a hand in that juvenile website did you?

  47. MinionZero

    Phorm and the Government are playing an extremely dangerous game...

    @HamsterWheel and Phorm...

    Rarely have I seen such a bunch of arrogant, self serving, self righteous people as yourselves. (Yes HamsterWheel, I assume you work for Phorm). Your total lack of empathy towards everyone, in your rampant greedy rush to exploit the privacy of the entire UK is beyond contemptible. But like all good narcissistics, you totally fail to see your own actions can be wrong and so you wrongly assume everyone against you must therefore be wrong. The creation of Phorm shows just such a totally twisted self serving mindset.

    Phorm is a truly shocking display of greed at the expense of everyone else, with utter contempt for personal freedom and privacy. There is no freedom in a world where a minority choose to spy 247 on everyone else, but then you all at Phorm know this only too well. Its why you set-up Phorm to exploit everyone for your own financial gain, plus you also get the government ignorance of technology and their greed for information on your side.

    Its not misinformation we are listening to about Phorm. There are over 15 million programmers in the world. All programmers know spying technology when they see it. We are not technologically ignorant as you wish to make us out to be, in your attempts to belittle our opinions. Your opt out methodology is as cynically meaningless as your claims that you care about peoples privacy. Simply put we don't trust you and phorm people have shown countless times how driven they are by rampant self serving narcissism, so no one in their right mind would trust Phorm.

    The continuous profiling capabilities of Phorm combined with seeking to gain the goal of using it over the entire UK population, is one of the biggest moves towards a Big Brother police state in the history of the human race, yet that police state is going to be managed by a bunch of self serving advertisers with a continuous display of so little empathy towards everyone. Well even political views need advertising and so its no wonder you have the home office control freaks on your side, as they can see many advantages in adopting new technology such as yours.

    Phorm have the same story as that self righteous, self serving, evil minded bitch Jacqui Smith. The call that we must use new technology when it becomes available. Phorm and that self righteous bitch Jacqui Smith need to learn that just because we now have ever more technology to abuse peoples privacy, that doesn't mean that's the right thing to keep on doing ever more. For example, just because we have the technology to knock down everyone's door, drag the people out of the house and strip search them in the road, that doesn't mean that's what everyone wants them to do. Same with Phorm, its going to far. Enough is enough and Phorm is going way to far.

    If this government wishes to stir up a real storm of public anger against itself, then by allowing Phorm style technology the backlash is going to end up taking down any government that wishes to back Phorm. Remember the people in power are very much a small minority of the population and while the government think they run it all, if the general population decides to stand up and say no more, every government has to listen. Phorm is treading on extremely dangerous ground and the whole scam is likely to explode in your faces and in the government's face, as people get ever more angry at the ever greater controls and spying being force onto them. This self serving, self righteous greed at the expense of others needs to stop, because the more it continues and gets even worse, the more pressure it builds against such behaviour.

  48. pengipete

    Don't worry about the Hamster

    If you check the following links you'll see that he invested in Phorm whilst they were conducting their secret trials and made a fair bit of money when someone leaked details of their relationship with BT. Bear in mind that Phorm were under the radar at that time and there is the question of why Hammy - who doesn't appear to have a record of share dealing before then - latched onto these but he may just have been lucky.

    He continued to invest and encouraged others to do so in late 2007 though - as you'll see in the last of the links - he was advised not to even at that stage by wiser investors.

    As a result, Hammy lost almost all of his profits. He was about £7,000 up at the begining and obvioulsy thought he was smart but he blew the lot about a month later when he re-invested his winnings in Phorm. Not only did he lose but he didn't even follow his own advice - if he had he would have made a killing when the shares rose to around £35 in spring 2008.

    It appears from these links that Hammy has not actually owned any Phorm shares since 2007.

    It's amazing how much you can find out about people who use the internet. Imagine how much more you could do if you got a computer to do it for you...

    Nah, that'll never happen. The government wouldn't allow it.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    Hands Up.

    Who invested in a company with an appalling reputation and one illegal product that nobody wants?

    Not an overly bright thing to do unless you are a shorter.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Phuck Privacy

    Everyone seems to be looking a Phorm as a privacy issue, but that isn't the big problem. The big problem is that it simply doesn't work as a business proposal.

    Consider the position for any commercial website if they are not paying advertising bucks to Phorm then they won't want Phorm to scan their site. Allowing Phorm to scan their site would achieve the same thing as allowing competitors free advertising space on their site. If you are paying Phorm for advertising then you will presumably enter into some sort of agreement that says they won't advertise your competitors to your customers, otherwise what's the point of paying them?

    The logical end result is that there is no point at all in giving Phorm any money, in the final analysis all you would be doing would be paying Phorm to advertise you to your existing customer base and you can do that yourself.

    It doesn't take long to work this out, so the only people who would invest would be people who didin't even bother thinking before handing over the cash. Presumably those stupid enough to invest have now applied a little thought and are now panicking a fair bit. Eh, Hamsterwheel?


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