Your Views: Phorm gets dumped

Our readers weigh in on BT's decision to not roll out Phorm's deep packet inspection system.

Behavioural advertising firm Phorm hasn't had a good week - and it's only Tuesday.

Yesterday, the only UK ISP to trial Phorm's WebWise traffic scanning system declared it had no plans to roll out the service anytime soon. The BT statement sent Phorm's shares sliding and set its critics celebrating, while Carphone Warehouse jumped on the bandwagon to declare it had no plans to implement Phorm's system, either.

We asked readers of our biweekly newsletter what they thought about Phorm, and they weren't exactly filled with pity.

While Steve wasn't happy with the secret trials, he noted Phorm isn't the only organisation collecting information, highlighting Google and the Internet Watch Foundation. "Phorm is a great technology in terms of how it works and at least Phorm were open in telling people," he wrote, adding that the Wikipedia/Scorpions incident showed the IWF has the ability to block access to sites. "The IWF maintain the banned list in a completely nontransparent manner and this is more scary than Phorm."

Many wrote in to say "good riddance" Phorm, but Frank got right to the point. "Phorm is just another invasion of an individuals privacy and I am glad to see that BT has seen sense and discontinued working with them."

He added: "Personally, any IP that takes up with Phorm or any other company who implements this sort of software will not be a company that I will deal with."

Ian agreed. "I am extremely unhappy with the concept behind Phorm, I don't like the principal nor do I trust that it would be to implemented fairly and transparently," he wrote. "I am currently with Virgin, if they deploy it I won't be."

Mike said: "I think BT have made the right decision and that Virgin Media and Carphone Warehouse are treading on thin ice of public perception by not distancing themselves from it immediately."

His complaint with the system is the invasion of privacy and he's not joking, either. "In terms of being the most hated activities, I think only torture, child abuse and a few other things are perceived as being worse than forced spying on ordinary people. We are talking about the potential to destroy liberty. Wars have been fought over that."

Gordon said no utility or postman, for that matter has the right to monitor his behaviour. "The internet should be simply another utility like gas, electricity and water. I pay for a supply of bandwidth and I do not expect my use of that bandwidth to be routinely monitored especially by a commercial organisation looking to serve me 'more relevant advertising'."

He added: "I do not expect my snail-mail to be opened in transit and neither should my email. I do not expect my telephone conversations to be monitored, though I accept that, with proper and considered judicial authorisation it may, sometimes, be necessary to do such things when investigating crimes."

David couldn't help but find the situation punny. "Delighted to see that news item," he wrote in, adding: "It'll almost certainly be resurrected in another Phorm!"

Click here to read the full story of Phorm in the UK.

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