Say no to Phorm ¦ Don’t Let Your ISP Stalk You


Phorm A piece on the BBC news caught my ear yesterday. To the disgust of Tim Berners-Lee British Telecom, Virgin and my ISP Talk Talk have all said that they are going to start using Phorm in the near future. Phorm tracks your internet use, and harvests data to create a profile which these companies will then use to generate revenues from targeted advertising.

Yes, that was my reaction. No bloody way. I immediately sent off a very stroppy message to Talk Talk saying I’d immediately terminate my contract with them if they went ahead. They are hardly the most reliable people on earth anyway, and I don’ t think I could trust them to manage an ‘opt in’ service properly. So I told them that too and said I’d sue their asses if they ‘inadvertently’ put me on the system.

It seems that Phorm may actually be illegal anyway, which is encouraging, though BT contest this (and claim it will ‘increase security’ – ffs, do they really think people are that stupid/scared?)

Whether it is or not, it is certainly against the spirit of the service. Imagine – as people have been putting it – Royal Mail opening all of your letters and reading through them, in order to send you more focused junk mail. Totally unacceptable.

We need to be very aware of these developments, and make sure we are active in resisting them. Facebook is already one of the worst offenders in terms of watered down privacy, but if ISPs are going to start, then we really are in trouble. It’s all part of the business model of the internet, which in turn reflects on who we are becoming as a society: we want stuff for free, and are prepared to sell our souls to advertising to get it. As I wrote here previously, it’s a model that impacts the poor most.

This isn’t about ‘Big Brother’, it’s about incrementally slightly bigger brother, who we’ll suddenly one day realise has got out of control. So check your ISP. Kick up a fuss. And join BadPhorm.



11 responses to “Say no to Phorm ¦ Don’t Let Your ISP Stalk You”

  1. Had an interesting conversation with BT.
    They are running Phorm, you can opt out here:
    BT are scum. Quicker we circumvent them, the better. Bring on Pynchon’s ‘posthorn’.

  2. Hi Kes
    Thanks for flagging this up.
    What disgusts me the most is that they they’ll happily let ISPs target-sell us like this, but won’t regulate ISPs to stem illegal downloads of music or whatever.
    Ridiculous double-standards on their part, I reckon.

  3. Mike, I know we should show a united front against the capitalist-pig-dogs. but are you really disgusted by ‘free’ music? Come-on BitTorrent (so I’ve heard)!
    Maybe, just maybe ‘freeware’ offers a glimpse of future value systems and currencies. But back to the point— BT are the bad-guys.

  4. Perhaps there are weird synergies here: the less money people are making through normal income streams (like selling music) the more they’re going to try to do stealth wealth.
    It’s now we’ll see just how far down the river the net has been sold… the more we pull back the cable, the more we’ll see every damn government snooping already.

  5. Synergy is a good word to use, the ‘unexpected’ fallout from interaction. Although, I think ‘stealth wealth’ is more about shareholders and rabid capitalism. Organizations trying too squeeze every last drop of value out of assets— rinsing the planet.
    How do we revalue value? How does respect for the environment and each other get hardwired back into currency? When will sustainability become a component of currency— a shift to more time-based currencies might help?
    That’s why ‘fee music’ is so interesting. In a way it can be seen to be asking a question. Yet unfortunately, it’s a language that consumerism doesn’t understand, and so it tries to answer in the only way it knows how— ring-fence something else, for instance, live music.
    There are alternative currencies and value systems out there.

  6. Yeh, the problem with free music is that the artist gets squeezed as well as the record company.
    I’ll dig out the facts as best I can, but on a 79p download, the artist gets pennies in royalty. You’ve got to ask where the lions share of the costs go. Same with CD sales.
    So, yeh – it would be very easy to say “screw the record company”, but really the artist is the one that gets screwed the most (again).

  7. Here you go – these two articles I found accord with my (admittedly limited) knowledge of what an artist actually gets.
    It’s worth bearing in mind that the “admin charge” (wasn’t it 45p?) on Radiohead’s recent free download of In Rainbows, would be about the same as what they would have got in royalties from the sale of a CD.

  8. Better use of panoptic-wear, turn it into an ambient game!

  9. BTW, I was not “disgusted by the idea of free music”, I just thought its was disgusting that they can do what they want with ISPs when it suits them.