Phorm

Open Rights Group:
Over the last few weeks, the story that BT, Virgin and TalkTalk are signed up to trial a new technology called Phorm, which tracks users’ online surfing habits in order to target ads at them, has caused a storm all over the internet.

Here’s what we’ve been told about the workings of Phorm so far. Phorm assigns a user’s browser a unique identifying number, which, it is claimed, nobody can associate with your IP address, not even your ISP. It then uses information about your surfing habits, gathered by searching the URLs you request and the websites you visit for key words, to assign that unique number to various “channels” (for example “golf”, “travel” or “handbags”). When you visit a website which has a “Phorm please put an ad in here” tag, Phorm serves an ad from a channel where your unique number appears.