Deep Packet Inspection outfit Phorm is busy covering itself with glory today. This morning we had the Freedom of Information revelation that contrary to previous statements, the Home Office not only advised Phorm on the legality of its service, but in fact afforded Phorm the opportunity to edit the Home Office advice before it was released.
Then we saw the launch of www.stopphoulplay.com, a website set up by Phorm to name and smear the ‘privacy pirates‘, who “appear to be determined to harm our company”. The purpose of the site seems to be to plant the idea in people’s minds that the only reason that privacy campaigners object to Phorm’s DPI technologies is because Phorm’s competitors are paying them to do so.
Any chance we had of trusting what’s been said by either Phorm or the Home Office on the topic of DPI is now completely lost. I would have expected a company working on something so sensitive to have demonstrated much greater transparency in its approach to market – as I’ve said before, I don’t actually have a problem with what Phorm is trying to achieve, I have a problem with how it’s going about it.
But Phorm’s actions have forced me to climb off the fence and make my new position clear: I object to Phorm’s technologies and will be asking them not to profile visitors to my website. I will not use an ISP that participates in the Webwise service, even if there is an opt-out. I will avoid visiting websites that are early adopters of Phorm’s technologies. And I will urge my friends to do the same until I see a change in attitude from Phorm’s management.
[For the avoidance of doubt, my opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of either Computer Weekly or the Enterprise Privacy Group and its member organisations].