Phorm and Webwise – research says they’re illegal PLUS how they will make your business go bankrupt

phorm and webwise spyware will kill your businessFollowing on from last week’s story about Phorm and Webwise, some more info’s come to my attention in this whole debacle. I told you all last week about how we are all sleepwalking our way into a world where we have no freedoms, no liberties, and no right to privacy. Today, I’m going to expand that argument further, and show you, beyond reasonable doubt, that what Phorm and Webwise are doing is morally wrong, ethically bad, and very probably illegal under British and European law.

First, we need to get into the legality (or lack of it, which seems more appropriate… ex-spyware-peddlers, don’t forget…) of Phorm and Webwise. Part of the massive furore over the system has been down to whether or not it will be illegal. And this is where the government got involved, specifically the Home Office, by completely turning a blind eye to it. We’ll forget for a second that the government actively WANT the ability to spy on people legitimately, and that it’s entirely likely they’ll force ISP’s to install something similar to Webwise in their own networks (which, by the way, we’ll never be told about).

No, what we need to concentrate on is the FIPR (Foundation for Information Policy Research) response to the Home Office’s turning of a blind eye. On that link you’ll find a couple of open letters, regarding the technical aspects, and more importantly, the legal aspects. However, I’ll sum up the important point for anyone who doesn’t like long-winded mumbo-jumbo and legalese (ie/ normal people like you and me)

Conclusion, drawn from the FIPR legal analysis
PHORM AND WEBWISE ARE TOTALLY, 100% ILLEGAL UNDER UK LAW. THEY ARE IN BREACH OF DATA PROTECTION LAW, RIPA LEGISLATION AND TRADING STANDARDS/FRAUD LAW.

I’d call that pretty categorical. If one can cite the specific sections of the specific acts Phorm and Webwise are in breach of, one must conclude there are some specific illegalities going on.

Of course, if that’s the case, we all KNOW the government will make amends to data protection law and RIPA to make it not be illegal. They do, after all, want it to happen…

But there’s another aspect to Phorm and Webwise that a forum contributor thought of on BadPhorm (and it’s something I’d never even considered, so my heartfelt thanks go to that guy… well, male or female, and their name, I don’t know, because unlike certain ISP’s I could mention, I respect privacy…), and that’s the very, VERY real possibility that Phorm could put YOUR company out of business.

Let me explain… Say you own an online shop that sells, for sake of argument, mobile phones. A user goes on your site, and Webwise sees (and profiles) that you’re interested in mobile phones. But then, they bombard that user with adverts for mobile phones, and this is the crucial part, FROM SHOPS OTHER THAN YOURS.

So, that user goes off and buys a mobile phone from them, and you lose the sale. Keep that up with every user who visits your site, and very soon, you’ll find that Webwise has turned your profit into loss, and has killed your business.

It’s kind of poignant that this story goes on our blog today, as today is officially the 15th birthday of the internet. 15 years ago today, the first code was laid down in the CERN lab, that would eventually flourish and evolve into the web we have today. Dubbed the creator of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee put down that code 15 years ago, and today, he’s still involved in the web. What does he think of Phorm and Webwise?

No surprise, really, he hates it! And yet Kent Ertugrul, CEO of Phorm, has gone on record to imply Berners-Lee doesn’t understand the technical issues! Erm, hang on, he created the internet, I would imagine he knows a fair bit about it, Kent.

Still, what would you expect from ex-spyware-peddlers? The truth? No, I can’t see that happening.

There are ways to stop Phorm and Webwise (‘Section 10 and Section 11 DPA notices served on your ISP’ springs to mind), outlined in some details over at BadPhorm, and the fight to get this illegal (according to the extensive and well-thought-out FIPR research) system stopped for good will go on. If you like your privacy, you’ll stand up and be counted.

And if not, then have fun when every single one of your communications are wiretapped and spied on, and your business has gone bankrupt, because of Phorm and Webwise…

anti phorm sig

Do you have a business that stands to lose money because of Webwise (hint: if you have a business, yes, you do!)? Do you think Phorm are lying about having nothing to hide? Do you think that Phorm and Webwise will kill the internet as we know it? Join in the debate, here!

6 thoughts on “Phorm and Webwise – research says they’re illegal PLUS how they will make your business go bankrupt

  1. Tony Salt

    Amazing how they can get away with this stuff. Sad day for the free world…Ha ha just made myself laugh, the free world disappeared a long time ago, right around the time the Yanks bombed Bahgdad to smithereens a few years ago. It’s madness. Can’t take away internet privacy, simply can’t do that it will be the end of the web as we know it.

    I can’t believe this is going to happen, it’s simply shocking.

  2. TechnicalMarkus

    You’re not wrong, there, it’s a travesty is what it is!

    Personally I’d like to see the PhormPRTeam come on here, and try to convince me and Winston with their spin, given that both of us are heavily against, and the technical stuff is easy enough for me to understand, if I put my mind to it (I’m more at home with mobile technology, you see)

    Would you like to guess what their chances of winning us over would be…?

  3. IchiroFoxx

    It is most certainly a breach of privacy, but I don’t think businesses should be worried. I’d say about 98% of people ignore website ads and pop-ups completely, and one would think they probably would trust a website they find highly ranked on Google more than in a pop-up.

  4. TechnicalMarkus

    Nevertheless, it’s something to think about. I can’t imagine many businesses liking that if and when it DOES happen, since there’ll always be SOMEONE who clicks on ads.

  5. Royston Vasey Fan

    hmmmmmmmmm, “inphormed” is ur name, eh? so, u’d be a plant, then?

    tell me, if ur not affiliated with, or work for phorm, or don’t have any involvement with webwise in way, shape or fashion, why do u defend something that will spy on u?

    and if u do have some connection with phorm, do u really believe u posting that link will make anyone on these comments think webwise is a good thing?

    plus, i feel like i should point out that pinsent masons, the legal company behind that website, are part of bt’s legal council, and bt are the ones pimping data to phorm.

    and u call them unbiased??? how can a law firm who are partisan in the whole thing be unbiased??

    ergo, ur a plant from phorm?! i call shenanigans!

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