Page Impressions Ltd Blogcetera: Amazon to side step Phorm!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Amazon to side step Phorm!

In an increasingly heated debate over privacy, Amazon UK has stated that it will not allow the online advertising system of Phorm to scan its web pages to produce targeted ads.

 

Amazon is one of the most popular sites in the UK and indeed worldwide and its decision to block behavioural targeting of the type promoted by Phorm is a huge blow to the approach and will no doubt influence other major sites such as eBay to review their policy. 

 

This decision will be a major embarrassment to BT who had hoped to roll out Phorm’s technology later this year under the name Webwise.  Both BT and Phorm have come under fire from privacy campaigners over the the “secret” trials that BT conducted last year.

 

In a statement, Amazon UK said: "We have contacted Webwise requesting that we opt out for all of our domains."  The company declined to comment further on the reasons behind its decision.

 

In response, Phorm said: "There is a process in place to allow publishers to contact Phorm and opt out of the system, but we do not comment on individual cases."

 

Last month the Open Rights Group wrote to the chief privacy officers at Microsoft, Google/Youtube, Facebook, AOL/Bebo, Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay urging them to opt-out of Phorm. Amazon is the first company to give any sort of response at all but are unlikely to be the last.

 

Earlier this week the European Commission said it was starting legal action against the UK over its data protection laws in relation to Phorm's technology.  The European Commission has described the technology as an "interception" of user data and wants UK law to reflect more explicitly the need for consent from users in order for the service to be implemented.

 

Given the recent announcement of Google to introduce their own form of behavioural tracking on to users search queries, it will be interesting to see whether Amazon et al decide that they wish to avoid all forms of intrusive targeting and whether the EU will take on the behemoth Google.

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