Dr Richard Clayton, a highly respected lecturer at the University of Cambridge who has previously published a document describing how Phorm works, has joined existing calls for the authorities to investigate BT for the highly controversial trial of the Phorm ad profiling system. This follows a leaked internal BT report on the system available on Wikileaks. It has already been suggested by the Foundation for Information Policy Research (fipr) that the system is illegal although BT have denied this.
The leaked BT document makes a reference to the original trial which BT's users were not made aware of and suggests that a change in the terms and conditions would be necessary for the implementation, although it is important to note that the document in question was a technical rather than a legal one.
The Phorm advertising platform which profiles the browsing habits of users of participating service providers has been controversial due to the methods used and the difficulty in opting out permanently. Although independent reports have suggested they have gone far to try and strengthen the privacy aspects of the system, there is still an inherent resistance within a community of users which is unlikely to disappear. In a survey carried out by ISPreview, 56.6% of respondents (total sample 1,098) said they would leave an ISP if they implemented the Phorm platform. This also showed that a quarter didn't know what Phorm was. Admittedly it's likely that respondents to such a survey are self selecting to an extent and part of a group of particularly conscious consumers, but it does illustrate the problem Phorm will have trying to persuade the public they are not 'doing bad things'.