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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Phorm Whitewash

The British government's stance on Phorm has always been pretty supine. Despite serious allegation of criminal misconduct by Phorm and BT, the Government has again decided to whitewash the issue after politely ignoring the latest anti-phorm petition.

Thank you for the e-petition on internet advertising technologies and customer privacy.

As your petition states, some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been looking at the use of Phorm’s Webwise and Open Internet Exchange (OIX) products. However, the only use of the technology so far has been the trials conducted by BT.

Advertisers and ISPs need to ensure that they comply with all relevant data protection and privacy laws. It is also important that consumers’ privacy is protected and that they are given sufficient information and opportunity to make a clear and informed decision whether to participate in services such as Phorm.

The Government is committed to ensuring that people’s privacy is fully protected. Legislation is in place for this purpose and is enforced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). ICO looked at this technology, to ensure that any use of Phorm or similar technology is compatible with the relevant privacy legislation. ICO has published its view on Phorm on its website:


ICO is an independent body, and it would not be appropriate for the Government to second guess its decisions. However, ICO has been clear that it will be monitoring closely all progress on this issue, and in particular any future use of Phorm’s technology. They will ensure that any such future use is done in a lawful, appropriate and transparent manner, and that consumers’ rights are fully protected.
In other words - private companies unlawfully spying on citizens is no concern of the government.

Conspiracy theorist like to point out that Phorm's web monitoring technology is exactly the sort of thing that the government wants to do. Fortunately, it looks like Phorm is perhaps on their last legs after launch of this bizarre foaming-at-the-mouth blog that they started recently.

The government's complete disdain for British citizens is astonishing, and will probably be reflected in a humiliating result in next month's European and local elections. But then if voting really changed anything, this government probably would make it illegal.

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