This week, BBC reported on what could very well spell the end of online privacy, Phorm Global ISP Data Collection software in:
Phorm: Your questions answered
Companies want to track you. They want to know everything about you so that they can sell you products better. The more effectively they can target you and appeal to you through their advertisements, offers and other promotional efforts, the more revenue they can generate from sales to you (and possibly also people you know), and the more money they can save in operating expenses per sale they make. This is no secret. Those who sell products/services have been employing market targeting techniques (with varying levels of success) since at least the Middle Ages.
The point is, they view you as a consumer and more specifically they want to make you become a consumer of their product/service offerings, namely, a customer. Today, those in power are evaluating the latest proposal for a method to track your behavior and target you better through advertisements online. The effort is being lead by a company named Phorm with a history of spyware, adware, illegally selling private click-stream data and overall dubious business practices. You may find it difficult to track down information about Phorm, since the company originally operated under the banner of 121 Media, inc. If their service is indeed on-the-level, one may wonder why they’ve had the sudden change of heart and undergone the painful and expensive legal process to change their registered business operation name. Their operations are (for now) focused on the UK market, and in general UK consumers are speaking out in droves against the potential loss in privacy. As usual, Web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee’s expertise was sought as a result of the news this…. The visionary Berners-Lee voiced his concern about these types of privacy invasions unless they are run as a unequivocably “Opt-Instyle” service.
We urge you to fight back against this project and others like it, which represent the first in a wave of strategic actions by online service providers of all types to take away users’ control of their information and personal privacy.
You may be wondering to yourself: “Keeping my privacy sounds nice, but what can i possibly do about it?”
For starters you can join the anti-Phorm movement known as BadPhorm here:
You can also sign the online petition at:
Or join one of the many recently-formed Facebook advocacy groups:
And finally, in general, you should stay aware of what’s going on with your own local ISP and ensure that your privacy is maintained by joining consumer privacy and advocacy groups. Most importantly though, just don’t sit back and let your privacy be taken away without a fight. If no group exists in your area, but you have a potential privacy infringement issue:
- Write your municipal, provincial and federal government
- Create a group
- Stand up
- Fight (morally should do the trick, hopefully physical demonstrations are not necessary)
- The “Hi-Tech” Corporate Police State (powersthatbeat.wordpress.com)
- Google privacy changes prompt ‘Big Brother’ warning (telegraph.co.uk)
- Google sued for Android refund over privacy shakeup (telegraph.co.uk)
- U.K. Data Czar Calls for National Privacy Debate (blogs.wsj.com)
- Tim Berners-Lee Takes the Stand to Keep the Web Free (wired.com)
- Tim Berners-Lee Finally Takes Action Against Patents on the Web (techrights.org)
- 8 Privacy Threats Worse Than Google (informationweek.com)
BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money
The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:
1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.
2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.
3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.