The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has a website of essays related to the internet and privacy, and many feature discussions of Phorm’s vile and intrusive technology, tested in the UK as "Webwise".
You can view the essays here. There are contributions from individuals on both sides of the fence (but mostly it seems anti-dpi).
Phorm’s own Brooks Dobbs has a revealing essay (Phorm: A New Paradigm in Internet Advertising) advocating the use of dpi in trageting advertising as some sort of saviour of the internet. Interestingly the real and intrusive nature of the technology does not appear in Dobbs’ essay. In fact, on privacy he says:
This system has been audited by Ernst and Young, and leading privacy consultancy 80/20 Thinking has completed a full Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) on Phorm’s technology (copies available at privacy.phorm.com)
In fact, according to what I’ve read on the web, the Ernst & Young report focussed on the USA (where DPI practises have come under serious fire and have largely foundered), while th 80/20 thinking report is not a"full" assessment. When I looked, some particularly cogent comments had been left.
Imagine the postal service steaming open your letters so that they could scan the content, work out your interests, and then deliver a better class of junk mail. Most people would be horrified, yet some of the UK’s largest ISPs are planning to do something even more intrusive. They will capture the details of all the online searches you make, all of the web pages you visit – solely to serve up targeted online adverts. This isn’t happening for some altruistic aim of making adverts more relevant, but because the ISPs will get a cut from the advertising revenue, and Phorm, the technology vendor involved, will charge advertisers extra for delivering up an especially receptive audience.
There’s a whole lot wrong with Phorm and its intrusive system. It’s why I ditched British Telecom as an ISP after many years good service, and why I would recommend other BT users to do likewise.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website is encouraging in that well-formed articles can only help the debate, and in fact reveal the duplicity of the former spyware merchants Phorm. Oon the other hand it’s really quite depressing in comparison with the complete and utter failure of the UK Government to take the matter seriously, through its Departments and/or quangos, and properly investigate the really quite murky legal position.
But where, I wonder, is the surprise in the pathetic stance of the UK Government? After all this is the most data-intrusive Government we have had. And also the most slap-dash in terms of data security.