Phorm Advertising Technology Not Private Enough
Article by George Norman
On 31 Oct 2008
Or at least that is what Orange, the sixth largest broadband provider in the UK, said when it declared that it will not sign up with Phorm. According to Senior Vice-President of the Online Advertising Division with Google, Paul-François Fournier, there are some issues with the manner in which Orange customers’ data is protected.

Phorm technology works by analyzing your browsing history and according to what you look for online, it will provide you with relevant advertisements. So if you spend all day long surfing the net in search of cheap laptops, it will send you IT adds – it is as simple as that. It makes sense for a mobile carrier like Orange to implement such a technology since its voice revenues have been on the downward slope. This goes for other carriers as well, not just Orange; it seems that people are turning away from voice and towards broadband services.


BT for example has already started to test Phorm technology on a number of about 10,000 volunteers. Other companies such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk, and Carphone Warehouse are seriously considering the option of implementing Phorm’s technology.

What does Orange not like about Phorm technology? According to Paul-François Fournier the main issue is privacy. Orange handles private, sensitive data of all its customers and all of them expect Orange to handle it safely and securely. Since the model proposed by Phorm did not stipulate in a clear manner what measures will be enforced regarding customer privacy, the two companies cannot work together (for now at least). Mr. Fournier suggests that Orange customers be polled about this and a decision made according to what they say.

Phorm was quick to respond to the lack of privacy claim and said that the standards it employs are higher, considerably higher than the standards currently being used in the advertising industry. When coming up with this technology, the main focus has been kept on customer privacy.

Tags: Phorm, Orange, Virgin Media, BT
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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