Yesterday I recorded a half hour video interview with Kent Ertugrul, the founder and CEO of Phorm, the AIM-listed ‘behavioural targeting’ company which will track users at an ISP level for the purposes of targeting advertising. ISPs signed up, but yet to launch with Phorm integration, include BT, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media. Publishers will include FT.com, iVillage, Universal McCann, MGM OMD and Unanimis.
The launch of the company’s product has been hugely controversial amongst privacy advocates, given that it is using a technology known as ‘deep packet inspection’ to literally follow the customers of its ISP partners around on the web, serving advertising based on the user’s surfing habits. At the core of the Phorm product is a cookie which Phorm says users can openly opt in and out of, and which – they say – is incapable of identifying the user. However, the company has come in for widespread criticism, with The Register and The Guardian both looking closely at the company’s claims, to put it mildly. They cite commentators who say that users could be identified by Phorm’s technology. There is even a petition on the Prime Minister’s web site against Phorm.
In order to give Phorm a right of reply I put many of these questions to Ertugrul in the interview. The video is available here and embedded above.