AlisonW.uk

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2009-05-17 - 14:00:00 - by AlisonW - Topic: Open: Open Knowledge |

Just to be clear, I'm writing here about the abomination that is the idea behind Phorm; that getting internet service providers to inspect – illegally and without the informed consent of their customers or the owners of the websites they visit – just about all that they do online not so that they can improve their services but because they want to add advertisements. Indeed they would have the ability to replace the advertisement that a website owner has on their site – something like the Amazon or Google ad bars which are on this page and can help finance its operations – with their own marketing, thus reducing the income of the sites concerned and, possibly, even forcing them to close through reduced income!

Then there is the privacy issue. I look at a wide range of websites every day. Some are 'innocent', such as the Guardian's or BBC's news pages, MLB's tv service, Yahoo!'s tech developer pages. But there are also ones not quite so 'innocent' to some eyes. As the musical Avenue Q song has it, "The Internet Is for Porn" and, in that respect, I'm no different to nearly everyone else. But what one person likes to look at or read (food porn! tech catalogues!) should be their own private affair as I see it, unless such activity is criminally illegal anyway. And why should the fact that I visit particular websites mean I'm interested in related products anyway? I am forever viewing websites I have little no no interest in the content of, but I'm their to see how they solved (or failed to solve!) a particular interface issue, or at their design features, etc. Things that related to a professional interest.

I'm not going to request an 'opt-out' from Phorm for the many sites I am responsible for personally or professionally as that would (a) condone their activities, and (b) still be traceable on a per-user basis (illogically to opt out requires a user cookie on every machine!) but I will be adding the following text to the Privacy pages on all sites:

"PHORM PROHIBITED

The contents of this site, and communications between this site and its users, are protected by database right, copyright, confidentiality and the right not to be intercepted as conferred by section 1(3) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The use of those contents and communications by Internet Service Providers or others to profile or classify users of this site for advertising or other purposes is hereby expressly and strictly forbidden.

Liability for each separate and individual Interception will be retained by any and all ISPs who implement a deep packet interception system such as Phorm, or any system with similar workings as Phorm."



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