Phorm

Maija Palmer

Phorm logoFor a little while it looked like things were looking up for Phorm, the internet advertising technology company. There had been a year of controversy about the company’s technology which monitors internet users web surfing behaviour at the ISP level – a technique known as “deep packet inspection”, which has raised accusations of spying with some privacy activists.

But at the beginning of the year, things went quiet.  There were a few positive statements about targeted advertising from UK officials like Stephen Carter, and the company launched a trial with KT, the Korean broadband provider.

Now, suddenly, the controversy is raging again. 

  • Ebay announced plans to spin off Skype, its internet phone service, after talks to sell Skype back to its founders collapsed. Skype, purchased for $3.1bn in 2005, was meant to help buyers and sellers connect on eBay’s core e-commerce site. But there has been no synergy between the companies, and eBay chief executive John Donahoe has faced increasing pressure to sell Skype. The plan was announced one day after eBay sold StumbleUpon back to its founders.
  • Intel said the PC market has bottomed out, but offered few signs that a recovery from recent drastic sales declines was close at hand. Revenues for the three months through March slumped to $7.1bn, or 26 per cent lower than a year before, while net income fell by 55 per cent to $647m.

 

Maija Palmer

Phorm logoThere was a certain weariness about Kent Ertugrul, the chief executive of Phorm, as he took questions at the advertising technology company’s second town hall meeting in London on Tuesday night.

The company, which provides technology that matches advertising to web browsers interests,  has now gone through more than a year of trying to damp down allegations of spying and violations of privacy. 

Maija Palmer

It has been a week of regulatory decisions on internet privacy issues.

The UK’s Office of the Information Commissioner has given the go-ahead for Phorm, the targeted advertising company to start trials with BT. While the ICO statement of this is not exactly a ringing endorsement of the service, it doesn’t raise any insurmountable concerns. Phorm is still under close scrutiny, but for now, allowed to go ahead. 

Maija Palmer

Phorm logoAny company hoping to launch targeted advertising services should be watching the fate of UK start-up Phorm with great interest. In particular, they should take note of what this says about the public’s double standards on privacy.

Phorm is trying to build a new ad platform, serving ads targeted around users’ internet habits and interests. It is hoping to make this acceptable to the general public with reassurances that no personally identifiable information is kept or stored as part of the process.