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FrequencyCast UK Tech Podcast

The Fuss About Phorm

Been hearing lots of fuss about Phorm? Let us explain what's what with the Phorm Controversy.

What's Phorm?

Phorm is a US-based firm that did a deal with UK Broadband providers BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk in 2007/8 to use surfing data to help serve targeted ads.

As part of the deal, Phorm will be collecting information about sites that web users are viewing, and serving up adverts based on browsing habits.

Phorm claims that no personal information or IP addresses will be collected, and that this type of activity is the right side of the law, but privacy and data protection campaigners aren't convinced, and neither is creator of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who wants ISPs to keep their hands off his data.

Many are now referring to this practice as "Data pimping" - your ISP selling your browsing history off to a third party for advertising purposes.


The Phorm Timeline

Latest: BT and TalkTalk abandon plans to use Phorm. Result!

  • July 2009: BT decides to ditch Phorm - good on you guys. Source.
  • Sept 2008: UK Government rules that Phorm's legal, but requires consent. Source.
  • March 2008: The Phorm Controversy begins to receive national press coverage
  • 2007: BT ran trials of Phorm technology, possibly including tens of thousands of BT Broadband customers, reportedly without customer consent


Not happy about your data being pimped?

An online petition to Downing Street collected over 9,000 signatures in its first month from users concerned about their privacy. You can sign it at

Also, see how to take action at BadPhorm

There's also some discussion of Phorm in our Networking Forum

Listen to the FrequencyCast UK online radio show
FrequencyCast Podcast IconPODCAST FEATURE: Phorm featured in Show 25 of our online tech radio show.
Listen to the show online, or download it to your MP3 player.

Listen to Show 25 | What is FrequencyCast? | Add us to iTunes


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