Telephore: April Fool.. or is it?
1st April 2008
Just in case you didn't spot the date,
today is April Fool's Day.. and the Telephore story
was a hoax, sorry! (You can see our previous April 1st
Of course, intercepting people's
communications like this has horrendous privacy implications,
so surely no-one would actually think of doing this?
If you are live in the UK and your ISP
is Virgin Media, BT or TalkTalk
then this sort of technology may well be coming to your
internet connection by the end of this year, courtesy
Phorm intercepts your web data at the
ISP end, and then serves ads based on that browsing
history. There are no plugins or software used for this,
the data is actually copied and stored when your ISP
serves it up to you. Phorm partners can then serve ads
based on that browsing history. But because most household
share an IP address, the danger is that ads might be
served up to others in the household based on another
person's browsing history.
Think about that - it means that your
private surfing may no longer be as private as you thought,
when Phorm starts serving up ads based on your own surfing
habits to others.
What's worse, is that Phorm archives
a copy of all the web pages you visit. Although Phorm
say that this data is anonymized, however the AOL
Search Data Scandal shows that this type of data
is often not as anonymous as you would think. And as for the security
of the data.. well, Phorm says that it has taken appropriate
measures, but then I bet you thought your HMRC
data was safe too?
We think that Phorm is very dangerous,
and that ISPs and advertisers should have nothing to
do with it. If you want to read more about Phorm, we
recommend The Register's Phorm
Open Rights Group. There is also a petition
at the 10 Downing Street web site which is nudging towards
Of course, Phorm is not Telephore.
We urge all our readers to look at the available information
and make their own minds up.. but our opinion is that
if you object to this type of data collection then you
should do something about it.