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.

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Companies: phorm

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Comments on “Phorm, Apparently Deaf To Consumer Hatred Of Being Spied On, Plans Expansion”

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Ron (profile) says:

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.

mike allen says:


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.


A Well Connected


Aardvark IT


Action ISP

adsl email











Aviators Network

Avonline Broadband

Irate UK Web User says:

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!

chris (profile) says:

Re: This will be fun

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

for extra lulz, run the bot 24×7, 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?

jim says:


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?

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re:This will be fun

Already Begun!

tor is close, but i’m thinking more like network chaff:

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)

Hank says:

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:

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)


Hank says:

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.


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