I practically wet my pants reading this. I would soooooooo much like to have been there to see Kent's face :D
'scuse me, I'm off to nodpi for some gossip !
'Gratz to you Chris and El Reg for keeping up the British end.
An exasperated Kent Ertugrul took on Sir Tim Berners-Lee in a tense encounter at a discussion on internet privacy at the Houses of Parliament today. The Phorm CEO was in the audience at a packed event sponsored by the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Miller and organised by the privacy activist website NoDPI.org. Fellow peers, …
Ertugrul presumably thinks that the data doesn't belong to the individual but to the company that collects it; and that they can then do as they please with that data. No doubt, he will use the argument that this is to benefit everyone as it allows the marketing to be better targeted.
Horse feathers and similar phrases - this is about one thing, and one thing only. He wants to MAKE MONEY out of us. He doesn't give a monkey's about the quality of anyone elses marketing apart from his own.
In many ways this process is like someone entering your house, wandering around looking at your possesions and then leaving - they would argue that they have done nothing wrong as they have taken nothing or damaged nothing. The Phorm argument would be similar; as they anonymise the data, they have taken nothing and caused you no damage. However, I wonder if Mr Ertugrul's wife would be as sanguine if she thought someone had gone through her house and looked through her underwear?
I cannot even begin to express my utter contempt for Phorm and their business model. It is based upon a truly unacceptable practice - I would refuse to deal with any company that used their services in any way, shape or Phorm.
These companies (FaceBook is no different) are run by people who never had ethics and have no comprehension of their station. Tim Berners-Lee on the other hand has wisdom, common sense and a compassionate forward thinking grounding, so speaks the truth. The sooner people rebel against any entity that collects our data and infringes on our privacy and dignity, the better. The long term soliution is the law, but the problem is, the government is in bed with the corporations because they like to snoop too.
So this bloke from Phorm decided to keep butting in even though he wasn't asked to participate in the transaction between the provider (on the stage) and the intended recipients ?
T B-L is excellent at explaining things in a clear and passionate (but not insane) manner to an intelligent audience who wants to understand and discuss. This is where the blustering moneygrabbers get put in their place without being able to shout down the clear argument. More of this please, perhaps in the broadcast media too.
Was that the panel was entitled "internet *privacy*
He does not feel you should have any.
Upton Sinclair said "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it"
Phorn appeals to large ISP management. Its a simple idea which shows them how to turn something with limited direct value to them into a (supposedly) big profit.
Senior management at large ISP's should be able to figure out ways to stay profitable given their large market share, but apparently (despite the rather large pay cheques) they cannot. Perhaps because people can and do switch suppliers in way they would not consider doing with (say) Microsoft.
I am not saying that MS is an effective monopoly supplier. Just they more effectively discourage switching.
Phorn. Stock exchange (http://www.londonstockexchange.com/) shows phorn (PHRX and PHRM) at c£6 and £3.50. PHRM steps up 50p when they announced the BT trial were complete. The volumes are *tiny* Most of the last 5 trades in each were in the 100s (of shares) not 1000s. The spread of prices between asking and offered is about 5.7%. Those with £1k to spare and a dealing account would have a real chance to affect the price directly. If enough people sold short it this would put the share price on the down slope. Don't reason with a rabid dog. Put it down.
For the ISPs. Its about revenue. If your with BT/CarPhoneWarehouse/Virgin. Leave and explain why. They get Phorn = falling subscribers. They're big. But what benefits does that actually show to *you*, Mr or Ms Consumer? Prices that keener? (Real) bandwidth that high? Spam filter *that* much better?
Virgin keeps knocking on my door. They get told "Ditch Phorn. I'll think about it."
ISPs need things people will want to do with their service, not be forced to do because they cannot avoid it. Its called adding value and it means value to me, not just to them.
Given speech recognition technology BT could add this to their landlines.
They could listen in on your calls and then ring you back with appropriate ads.
Of course as soon they hear you telling your child 'I love you' while calling from a hotel on a business trip and then they ring the child up and play NSFW ads for 'romantic' products they might be in trouble,
Ring ring. Ring ring. Press 1 for ... Press 2 for .. etc ..
"Hello can I help you"
"Yes, you can. You can cancel my subscription to Virgin Media"
"Ok, may I ask why you want to leave us sir?"
"Yes, it is because you have recently announced that you are going to implement Phorm and I have no wish to permit you to snoop into my use of the Internet"
"Ah, okay sir, your contract will end in 30 days"
Well, how could they possibly argue.
Virgin can take their Phorm black helicopters and shove them where the sun really doesn't shine.
Wish I'd had a ringside seat for this. Kent obviously resents being in a situation where he can't control the message, or at least have the right to talk over others, and trying to do so over someone with so much moral force was simply foolish.
With the right coverage in the wider media, this event just might be the springboard to wake the public up to the threat. Most people have heard of Berners-Lee and respect what he has to say. Phorm can hardly say the same of their own cheerleaders, who include Norman Lamont, the man who continually defended General Pinochet on TV and gave us Black Wednesday.
"In a minute, Kent". Or maybe never, Kent.
I say we show these F*cktards from Phorm a bit of compassion - ask them what color blindfold they want and if they prefer filter-tip or plain cigarettes just before we put their lying, thieving, spying, money grubbing asses up against the wall and shoot them.
Slowly, so it hurts a LOT, too.
If someone is peeping into your house, you can have them arrested and they'll be prosecuted. If someone is listening into your phone calls (and they are not the gub'mint), the same thing applies. How and why are web searches any different?
Maybe we should drop 'em off in Afghanistan and let them explain their program to the Taliban - we could be compassionate in allowing them the use of parachutes.
Spies get shot - international law - these guys and their company are spies, ergo, lock and load!
METHOD #1 - Widely deploy IPv6 as the defacto Internet standard, so we can encrypt all the data between client and server. I can't wait for this day, to piss off the "security conscious" among us.
METHOD #2 - Force companies who take these snooping steps to pass along all profits to the end-users who produce the "creative works" that they are unrightfully exploiting. I guess this step would allow BT and Phorm to avoid being sued by the new organization sure to arise out of this, the Websurfing Industry Ass. of America (or similar).
All I really can say beyond this is that these guys are just a bunch of wankers. Get a life. Exploit someone else.
Paris, since she an subject-matter expert on wankers, exploitation and "creative works".
"he said journalists would be out of a job without behavioural targeting."
We don't have behavioural targeting now do we? You mean I'm imagining The Register? BBC News?
Damn, I must be some kind of psychotic genius - but only in my rather large made up world of Internet news sites, speaking of which, what are you lot doing in here? Are you telepathic? Or did I make you up too?
Good work TBL, now get on TV and get this out to the masses who can't see past the general media's cover up of Phorm.
El'Reg, as always, good work on reporting on Phorm, I wish I'd seen this live.
Thank you El Reg for your detailed report. Keep shining the light in dark corners.
If Ertugrul thinks privacy is a "Luddite" concept then he's a bigger k*nt than we thought. For once, I am proud to be labelled a Luddite.
I doubt if the kuntard himself reads these comments but just in case he does, my personal message to him is that he is a parasitic spamming greedy pus-bubble who deserves to be bankrupted before dying slowly in unremitting pain.
He's not the only one! He'll get his chance in due course - possibly.
The event was about "privacy" on the internet - something Ertugrul would seem to care little about.
It would seem that his basic argument logic is as follows:
The internet is about advertising products (??)
User profiling has always happened (??)
I have developed a more sophisticated tool for focused ad delivery (?! & illegal when used?)
My business model requires me to promote it or my shareholders will be "upset" (too bad...)
Focused advertising is inevitable (- or worse unless you subscribe to my way!!!) (really)
Please, please, please let me have my way or I'll lose my shirt, you'll get stuffed anyway and I'll be forever known as Mr "Exasperated".
T B-L and the others are absolutely right, IMHO, to hold out and hold forth against such nonsense.
Two words of warning to all those who say "nah, not a problem with my privacy" - Credit Crunch.
Those on the political and banking "inside" were initially telling us that debt was good and manageable. We're in the mire now! Yes, we'll come out the other side somehow but would be far better if we'd not got into the mess in the first place.
From the article it sounds like Sir Tim certainly earned his knighthood that day (oh and my respect too). Good article too. :)
"the magazine Prospect, which purportedly carries influence among the political class."
It doesn't matter a damn what our elected lords and masters think - if Virgin/BT et al get the message loud and clear that signing a contract with Phorm is equivalent to a commercial suicide note then it ain't going to happen. Remember BT/Virgin/etc are doing what they do to make money and if they figure that Phorm is going to cost them more in lost subscribers than they'll get in revenue, then it's a dead duck (although snake or spider is probably more appropriate).
Like others here (probably) I recently got a call from BT asking me to switch from Virgin to a slower but cheaper service from them. Pointed out that it was noticably slower, plus "I feel very uneasy doing business with a company that is planning to put in Phorm". Was then asked to explain what this was, before being asked to go on hold while marketing lass 'spoke to my supervisor'. After about two-three minutes she was back on with an apology for bothering me - end of discussion. Maybe this is a better way to erase Phorm - take every opportunity to make our group abhorrence of this illegal wiretapping known to the folks that seek to put it in.
If Virgin (my current ISP) put it in then I'll be cancelling my TV and broadband contract as fast as possible. And if/when BT put it in then I'll seriously consider cancelling the phone contract I have with them. Okay, I'm not a big moneyspinner for either company, but to quote Tesco "every little helps!"
Oh and Phorm - one message - "ODFO" :p
@Danny Thompson: Virgin have gone very quiet on Phorm'ing you notice. Methinks they're seeing the vitriol hurled at BT and decided that they can well do without another excuse for folks to jump ship to Sky.
(Black copter icon for the obvious reasons)
I don't fully appreciate the implications of what's going on. It helps to think about it from an old existing service.
I use the phone. BT see what calls I make and send me a bill each quarter.
Can they analyse the data of calls, see that I call Direct Line, B&Q and EDF Energy and then sell "profiled" anonomised data to Insurance companies, retailers and Energy companies ? Can they do this now or are we all protected ?
Similarly, my credit card company knows where I spend my money. Can they "anonomise" the data and sell it on to retailers so I'm specifically targeted ?
Are we starting down a slippery slope, are we already on it or am I worrying for no reason ?
It will no doubt vary from ISP to ISP but according to official responses from some of the ISPs on this forum: http://forums.thinkbroadband.com/showflat.php?Board=freenetname&Number=3281353&fpart=all&vc=1, it applies to BT retail only, so other ISPs won't be forced to adopt it by BT.
In the case of Madasafish, they have no plans to implement it at all. I'd try Googling your ISP's name with the word "phorm" in the search string and see what comes up.
some use stupidly large numbers.
cookies can be blocked by the visitor (sometimes at the cost of site functionaluty - its a fair trade off)
cookies can be tracked and accepted by the visitor
cookies are stored on the visitor's confuser, so they can be reviewed (in theory) and deleted if required
Let's just wait until the first company to have it's details stored in Phorm, finds it's info sold to the highest bidder and the company starts an action against "C**t Urgh-Ghoul" and his wonderful little company for multi-billion pound loses!
Well done TBL, about time we geeks stood up for what we believe, we have nothing to lose but our pocket PDAs with the Linux kernel source on it! ( Just as a little light reading on the way home of an evening you understand! )
To those claiming Kent doesn't care about privacy - not true. They [Phorm] have in fact gone to great lengths to try and make their 'service' palatable with regards to privacy (whether this has been achieved or not).
The problem is the actual interception and the question of trust.
We don't trust you Kent. Get it into your thick skull and just go away.
..this is going the way of Turner's CEO Jamie Kellner who famously said that skipping ads was stealing??
"So, Defendant, how do you plead?"
"Any mitigating circumstances?"
Sorry, M'lud, but the adverts were boring, so I thought I'd give the missus a good 5-minute seeing-to"
TIP! Keep ads shorter, less room for something for wife to moan about...
(OK, it's called Phorn. With a silent 'h'. Isn't it?)
I'll keep it simple for the business people at phorm to understand.
If the chap who invented the world wide web says no, its a bad idea. Accept it really is a stupid idea.
The terrifying thing is that there are a lot of people out there who really dont know about this, and when told totally fail to grasp the implications. A simple approach is needed to these people down the pub; 'The guy who invented the internet jobby says Phorm, which is part of BT/Virgin is BAAAAD. And he invented mate. So go with someone else.'
More beer drinking should then ensure.
Fortunately I use a copy of Firefox and noscript stored on a USB device and deleted after each usage, so there's no point in tracking my usage. But I would still be interested in how these cookies got onto my machine. nir.theregister.co.uk, net.telecoms, doubleclick.net, quantserve.com
In Soviet Union people watch television, in Peoples Republic of UK, television watch you ...
"I don't fully appreciate the implications of what's going on" - "Are we starting down a slippery slope, are we already on it or am I worrying for no reason ?"
You decide to take your partner to the city for a weekend break. You go online, book a cheap hotel room. They also link you through to their "partners" to book transport - you like that as it makes it easier. However, they then sell that data.
So over the next few days, you get several emails, telephone calls, text messages, all offering you bargains, if you switch your hotel, travel plans etc.
If you decide to go via public transport, you find a small screen on the back of the seat in front of you - it plays non-stop adverts all aimed at selling you stuff relating to your trip. If you decide to go by car, the digital radio is linked into the national marketing database, and the advert slots are also specifically positioned to make offers that you might want.
You eventually get to the city and take a cab to the hotel; in the back is a screen, and it detects from the RFID in your travel ticket who you are. It then targets you with more offers; it's valentines day, so they assume you are there for a spot of romance and you get umpteen offers of restaurants, jewellers etc all promising special deals.
You get to the hotel; the TV in the room has non stop advertising all targeted at you to get you to change your plans and spend yet more cash. More restauarants, tourist spots, florists, wedding planners, photographers etc.etc.etc
You decide to get away from the madness and take a stroll; every shop you go by detects your mobile and you get a text every 15 seconds as you pass yet another store promising even more wonderful deals if you go in and buy now.
Couldn't happen? The technology is already in place; they just need to tweak the data mining functions a bit. There are various companies that are already experimenting with exactly this approach. And Phorm is poised to provide them with exactly the data that they need.
For me, this is a vision of hell - it's a world that I do not want to live in and would not want forced on anyone else.
There may be people that want this; I suspect that the only ones are those who are aiming to make money out of it.
No, seriously - if you are concerned that companies like Phorm may be monitoring where you go in the interneet, and this is big news to you, then you should REALLY be more scared of companies like IMS Healthcare. IMS buys nearly ALL transaction data on pharma sales, supposedly anonomyized, and then packages and sells that data to pharma companies (and perhaps others) to improve their marketing and compensate their sales people.
Which threatens you more - the fact that a company somewhere has data on what sites you visit on the web, or the fact that a company knows explicitly that you are on antidepressants, or drugs to combat addiction, etc.?
The point I am trying to make is that this stuff goes on ALL THE TIME, in every marketplace. Got a Tesco clubcard? That is probably far more revealing about who you are and what you do than the data Phorm has For that matter, Google CERTAINLY knows more about what you are and what you do than Phorm does, and your mobile company probably does as well.
The raw data already exists about you and is stored in a multiplicity of sites. That's part of modern life. Figuring out what advertisements you may wish to see is hardly the most intrusive of possible uses...
But I can CHOOSE to use my Tesco Clubcard (I don't use or own one) and I can CHOOSE to use Google or not.
I buy my healthcare over the counter, paying in cash if I am buying something sensitive. Try tracking that!
If Virgin goes with Phorm, then yes, I can CHOOSE to leave Virgin. And I will. Simply because if I stay with Virgin I'll have no CHOICE but to give away my browsing habits. Opt out? Only if I stop deleting my cookies. And Phorm still gets my data through their systems even when opted out. No thanks.
My apologies. I should have looked into their security assesment more closely. Thank you for the information.
OTH their patents indicate they have no real issue with not just hoovering up what page your on but also anything you type there. Like bank account numbers. And my impression is the "Annonimizing" feature can be switched off or by passed fairly easily as well.
After all I'm not the real customer. Thats the people who bought advertising space from OIX.
"We don't trust you Kent"
Quite. He has no need to ask and no need whatsoever to know what I do.
I've never seen the man even on video. I've just got this picture in my head of someone for whom child pornographers are not vile peverts who destroy young lives but are more as a niche marketing opportunity. Perhaps I am misjudging him and he's much nicer in person.
Deeply intrusive and very annoying. It might be time to break some of Lady Ada's tech out of cold storage.
Granted the only information about Phrom and this Kent moron from El Reg and a couple other sites I've read with information about this whole debacle. However Sir Tim Berners-Lee I am very familiar with and that Kent would even imagine he has the where with all to argue issues such as internet privacy with Tim is not only laughable. But also shows the deep degree to which Kent's denial and total disconnect with the reality of what he is doing; actually goes.
The Luddite allegation is a false one. The salient point about the Luddites were refusing to allow the advance of the technology because they feared (correctly so) that they would lose their jobs because of it.
Ertugrul has used the analogy wrongly. The public are not rejecting to the use of Phorm because it will do them out of a job. They are not resisting the advancement of technology
Entrugrul is just using the allegation of ludditism because people don't want to be regarded as a luddite, it has connotations of being stuck in the stone ages, blocking the advancement of the human race to move forward.
"If you don't like what we're doing, then you must be a luddite". So to avoid being a luddite, you must change your opinion so that you agree and permit us to develop and adopt the technology.
Psychological tactics, that's all, and not particularly good ones at that!
In my view, the guy's a plonker, but he does have a vested interest...so you're hardly gonna get a fair an unbiased opinion from him.
It's been said the government is in a state of denial, or just lacking sufficient awareness to see what's really going on with Phorm. A lack of investigation into the trials.
But has anyone stopped a moment to think, perhaps the government really wants this technology? Phorm claim it's anonymised...yes, I'm sure it is at some point in the system, when the data is passed on to a third party vendor who wants to send out the targetted adverts.
But, the URL of webpages you have access will be held in a database, and there will be a unique primary key value for you, call it a UserID number, you can be sure, elsewhere in the database, that UserID number will be linked to your IP address.
All the government has to do, is compel Phorm to allow government access to the database or data if exported out, in much the same way that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs have access to the data held by the supermarkets and the Nectar loyalty card.
Government..call it the Security Services, and eventually, any other tom dick and harry department will be given access to it, it will be exchanged ( via the new legislation going through Parliament right now). The police will get access to it in due course too, to see if you're downloading any so called extreme porn, which falls foul of the new porn laws.
You think this won't happen? !!!
Grief, I was a little relieved to realise it hadn't happened. Yet. Last trip to US a couple of years back wasn't far off. Even Finnish TV's getting that way*.
Beauty is, we'll get so imune to it, it'll be like background/traffic noise, NOT subliminal advertising that the admen expect. Bit like racking up the number of CCTV cameras in Britain - the watchers will finally get overload and ignore what they see.
However, when that day finally arrives, all I want to know is how to operate the three seashells in TacoBell....
* One other trick Fin-TV has learned from the US is to increase the volume by 6dB or more during ads. As we live in a quiet block, inhabited by many old folks, we simply MUST turn the TV to mute during advertisements. Otherwise, we've a possibility of eviction. Seriously. Defeats the object of the excercise. Being bored with this, we watch about 2 hours of TV per week. Mostly on public (YLE1 or 2). Golden goose - RIP.
I worked with Phorm for a while - to describe the winsome Marc and utterly delectable Radha as though they are part of a mob is so cruel.
Never met the PR guy though - I suspect he is one of the american employees that seem to roll off a production line somewhere.
And no - I didn't stop the work on ethical grounds. I wanted to apply QOS to sites and customers depending on whether they used or didn't use the technology. EEEEEEEEEEEEvil I tells yer. Pure evil.
@ Robert Hill
Let me see if I have your argument.
Large companies already do this with *far* more intimate data than the stuff Phorn are likely to collect so we should just bend over and take it.
So let me make my view simple.
None of them have any need to know my business. None of them have any need to ask about it.
Thank you for bringing IMS Healthcare to my attention. They sound like rather a shy and retiring organisation that doesn't like publicity.
You are a bit behind the curve on this, are you not?
Its like having the mail man open every letter and photocopy it. If you don't like that ... they will still open every letter and photocopy it ... but they promise not to look.
As far as it being anonymous ... just looking at the url's in my browser history you can figure out my myspace and facebook and my home address from maps.google.com.
And of course the government is ok with it, because once data about you is in a 3rd parties hands they can simply request it from them without involving you.
Giving up your privacy for a false sense of security is just wrong ... giving it up so ad brokers can charge 10% more for their ads is beyond ridiculous.
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