IPA blasts privacy campaigners for anti-competitive threat to Phorm

LONDON - The IPA has criticised a privacy campaign group for urging Google, Facebook and other major internet companies to boycott the technology of the behavioural targeting company Phorm.

Ertugrul... Phorm chief
Ertugrul... Phorm chief

The Open Rights Group sent a letter to major internet companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, eBay and Amazon last month asking that they refuse Phorm permission to use their web pages in a bid to protect users’ privacy.

The IPA’s legal director, Marina Palomba, said that if the major companies were to take this action, it would be anti-competitive.

Palomba added: "Google has launched its own behavioural targeting system, so why is the ORG targeting Phorm in particular, which is a competitor of Google? It’s incomprehensible.

"People need to be more concerned about the misuse of data by Google, which owns the data, rather than Phorm, which is a technology company."

Phorm provides technology that analyses web users' behaviour to produce more relevant advertising.

The company has been criticised in the past over concerns that its technology will allow internet companies to spy on users. Phorm’s chief executive, Kent Ertugrul, argues that the system is the most anonymous currently available and that it does not store any personal data on users.

Google launched its own behavioural-targeted advertising system on the search engine's AdSense partner sites and on YouTube last month. A spokesman for Google said: "We have received the Open Rights Group's letter and are considering its contents."

The open letter is available on the Open Rights Group website, www.openrightsgroup.org.