Phorm, Apparently Deaf To Consumer Hatred Of Being Spied On, Plans Expansion

from the seriously? dept

Phorm is the highly controversial behavioral advertising firm that teams up with ISPs to spy on your surfing habits and deliver targeted ads. The practice has raised a number of legal challenges and protests from users who were "tested on," without their knowledge. While Phorm has been found to be legal in the UK, its practices have still engendered widespread anger. Yet, the company seems particularly deaf to those concerns, and is talking about plans to expand internationally, despite the fact that similar schemes have run into legal troubles elsewhere. Perhaps before looking to expand internationally, Phorm should work on fixing its business model.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 9:46pm

    Will do anything for free stuff

    google does it. I dont see why ISPs cant do it. As they say, it might lead to ad-supported free broadband. I dont see anything wrong with it. (they should make sure that the customers know about it).

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 9:49pm

    Phorm doesn't care, it doesn't deal with the ppl that hate it, it deals with ISPs.

    it's the ISPs that should be worried, cause I m sure most if not all ppl that have a choice between an ISP that works with Phorm and one that doesn't they would choose the later.

     

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  3.  
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    Ron (profile), Jan 5th, 2009 @ 10:08pm

    re: Choice

    Not sure about Anon Coward's expectation that most if not all people have the choice of ISP s/he expects. My choice for broadband is ATT (DSL, and known to be very cooperative with the authorities), Comcast (cable, known to be interested in the habits of its customers) or DISH. Yup, choice but, not enough to assure me that I could get away from the spies.

     

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  4.  
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    TehShrike (profile), Jan 5th, 2009 @ 10:15pm

    Re: Will do anything for free stuff

    Google records traffic with their servers. That's their choice. If I choose to communicate with their servers, they can log whatever they want.

    Having a third party record my communication with other computers is another matter.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    inc, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 10:28pm

    Re: Re: Will do anything for free stuff

    I agree, I think ISPs need to think long and hard before they do something to risk their safe harbours. With everyone getting bailed out and retroactive immunity, why should anyone care about the laws they break?

     

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  6.  
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    Mike (profile), Jan 5th, 2009 @ 10:29pm

    Re: Will do anything for free stuff

    google does it.

    Very, very different. Google is only recording the usage on their particular servers. This would be about ISPs tracking everything you do *everywhere* online. That's extremely different.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 11:27pm

    ... Phorm should work on fixing its business model.666

    Um ... spying is their business model.

    P.S. The UK seems to not care about privacy. This is just one of the latest laws/rulings in the UK that worry me.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 11:29pm

    Re:

    Oops ... that 666 wasn't intended, although it mightbe appropriate.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2009 @ 11:48pm

    Re: re: Choice

    good point Ron, but i wasn't thinking of US or Canada, i was thinking about the UK and the rest of Europe, as far as i know (then again I could be mistaken) there isn't such a lack in the ISP department over there.

     

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  10.  
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    mike allen, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 12:20am

    UK ISPs

    i printt below a list of uk ISPs there are 11 more pages if any one want them search google. but it will show the difference between here and say USA. with so many Photrm only works with about 5 or 6 at the moment.



    4TheNet


    A Well Connected

    AAISP


    Aardvark IT


    Abel


    Action ISP


    adsl email


    ADSL-NOW


    ADSL24


    ADSL4Less


    Albion.net


    Alkazar


    Allcomm


    AllFas tAccess


    AOL


    Aquiss


    Ask4


    Augury


    Aviators Network


    Avonline Broadband

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 12:53am

    Check out how bad Phorm really is. Steve gives a great breakdown of it on Security now. Episode 153 http://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 2:18am

    Re: Will do anything for free stuff

    Google offers a search engine for free, I can choose to use it or not. I already PAY my ISP for my internet connection service, therefore I they will not get my permission to flog off my internet traffic to anyone.

     

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  13.  
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    Irate UK Web User, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 2:22am

    Tried to Coerce 70% of UK Broadband Users!

    To put this into perspective although there appears to be a great deal of choice it like the US is regional & if you take Phorms intended plans!

    BT/ Virgin Media/ TalkTalk encompasses 70% of current UK resources!

    Since whether or not the Web User Opts-in their data still would pass through the Profiler; at that point do you trust the ISP or Phorm?

    I do NOT!

     

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  14.  
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    Bad Phorm, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 5:37am

    This will be fun

    Set up a bot to randomly surf the net thus polluting the database.

    and turn off javascript, because their ads will not display without it

     

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  15.  
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    jim, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 7:38am

    phorm

    Being a uk resident this does not suprise me. the goverment is selling us up for what they can get. privicy, rights' its all a sham it's getting that we have no privicy. soon it will be the postie reading the mail. look at these pages for some of the changes, no good, encription is it the way forward? by law if requested do you need to give up a key?

     

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  16.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 6th, 2009 @ 7:57am

    Re: This will be fun

    Set up a bot to randomly surf the net thus polluting the database.

    for extra lulz, run the bot 24x7, but tunnel your "real" traffic through SSH, that way all phorm will see is your randomized traffic and not your actual surfing habits :-)

    rather than randomize, your bot could surf anti-phorm websites exclusively.

    the hardware requirements should be fairly low, perhaps the bot and SSH functionality could be built into an appliance of some sort so all a consumer has to do is plug a box into their broadband modem.

    anyone interested in collaborating on such a device?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Irate UK Web User, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Re:This will be fun

    Already Begun!

    http://hackaday.com/2008/12/21/tor-hardware-privacy-adapter/

    Allowing "snooping" directly on a Communications Network doesn't improve National Security or legitimate Law Enforcement it hinders it, the Security Conscious users are forced to hide in the same manner as the miscreants!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Hank, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    Legal in the UK? I think NOT!

    Er... could you correct your piece please. Phorm has NOT been found to be legal at all.

    A UK Government agency has said that they think Phorm's system COULD possibly be operated in a way that would be legal. However this has NOT been subject to any ruling by ANY legal authority.

    The UK Crown Prosecution Service is currently considering if there is a case to answer. This could not be the case IF as you suggest it has already been ruled legal in the UK!!

    Otherwise, can I say it's good to see this being raised. It is a major issue of this ex-Adware company (121Media) being courted by a huge UK plc and secret trials of a system which has a VERY dubious morale and legal background.

    Much more to be seen here: www.NoDPI.org

    Or why not look up Phorm on Wikipedia? See the history, in full and honestly displayed for all (now that Phorm and their PR spinning agents have agreed not to remove true content that they did not like)

    Thanks.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Hank, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 11:55am

    Doesn't Google do the same thing? No, not the half of it!

    Anonymous Coward - Jan 5th, 2009 @ 9:46pm...

    "google does it. I dont see why ISPs cant do it. As they say, it might lead to ad-supported free broadband. I dont see anything wrong with it. (they should make sure that the customers know about it)."

    Wrong, because the adverts won't support free broadband and wrong, because Google does it but they only do it for the bits of your activity they see. So you can use Google, or Yahoo or Ask or any of the many many search engines. And Google might see other things on other sights because they have advertising presence there too but only because they are there (not everywhere)

    Phorm on the other hand... well, you choose whichever search engine you like, they can "categorise all of your Internet actions... We actually can see the entire Internet." (Quote from Phorm COO Virasb Vahidi, New York Times, story titled "A Company Promises the Deepest Data Mining Yet")

    Still think Phorm is the same as Google? I don't want to seem rude or come over all high and mighty. Please read further, and join the debate where you will probably decide you don't like Phorm very much, not very much at all.

    I like these words, they aren't mine and I don't know who did say them, but they sum it up nicely for me:

    Because after all,
    Phorm IS 121Media.#
    And they must be stopped.

    Hank

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Bad Phorm, Jan 6th, 2009 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Legal in the UK? I think NOT!

    So - what is the status of the previously secret trials of Phorm products perpetrated upon the unsuspecting public ?

    Has anyone been prosecuted ?
    No ?
    That's what I thought.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re:This will be fun

    Already Begun!

    tor is close, but i'm thinking more like network chaff:
    http://paranoidlinux.org

    tor is just encrypted routing information. phorm will see plenty of data that indicates that you use tor. tor relays and exit nodes are well documented, access to them can be blocked.

    network chaff is traffic that is in the open but false:

    it does everything it can to keep your communications and documents a secret. It even throws up a bunch of "chaff" communications that are supposed to disguise the fact that you're doing anything covert. So while you're receiving a political message one character at a time, ParanoidLinux is pretending to surf the Web and fill in questionnaires and flirt in chat-rooms. Meanwhile, one in every five hundred characters you receive is your real message, a needle buried in a huge haystack.
    ~Cory Doctorow (Little Brother, 2008)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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