Monday, 23 March 2009

Letter to the UK Guardian Website regarding ORG Open Letter on Phorm

I recently sent this letter to the UK Guardian management:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to bring to your attention the following open letter,
sent to some major Internet websites by the Open Rights Group,
Richard Clayton of the FIPR, and privacy campaigner Alexander Hanff:

The open letter calls for major websites to opt-out of the Phorm
profiling system.  

What opting out means in practice is that Phorm will not use any
information gathered through deep packet inspection to build up
profiles of the visitors to the Guardian website and will not use
use this profile to serve targeted ads on another website.

One year ago, your advertising manager, Simon Kilby stated that the
Guardian would not be using Phorm's OIX advertising network:

"It is true that we have had conversations with them [Phorm] regarding
their services but we have concluded at this time that we do not want
to be part of the network. Our decision was in no small part down to
the conversations we had internally about how this product sits with
the values of our company."

Many of the visitors to the Guardian talk-board and in the Internet
community at large were very pleased with this decision.  I hope The
Guardian is still willing to take an ethical stance against Phorm and
protect the privacy of its users.

"The most important currency of the Guardian is trust. This is as true
today as when CP Scott marked the centenary of the founding of the
paper with his famous essay on journalism in 1921.",,906788,00.html

Indeed, your privacy policy states quite clearly that:

"We are absolutely committed to protecting your privacy. Our policy
can be summarised in one sentence: we will not share your information
with others without your prior consent. We have also established the
following principles:

1. We will continue to invest in high-quality security and do our
utmost to protect user privacy through the appropriate use of the
latest security technology.",,933905,00.html

It is for these reasons I am asking that The Guardian website to
opt-out of Phorm and abide by its own privacy policies and protect
its users privacy and preserve and promote their trust.

Yours sincerely,

phormwatch (real name used)

Watch this space for any news of a response from The Guardian.