03 March 2008
The ICO is reviewing how Phorm, which operates an online advertising platform for internet service providers (ISPs) based on internet users' search habits, intends to meet privacy standards. Phorm's advertising platform is based on internet users' browsing activity, received through anonymised ISP data streams.
It helps participants to define customer advertising channels and interest in specific products, then uses this information to serve advertisements based on browsing activity. It shares any increase in advertising revenue with the participating ISPs (including BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media). Phorm uses only Non-Personally Identifiable Information, such as search terms, URLs and keywords. Users can opt out of the service but if a user deletes their opt-out cookie, the opt-out status is lost, and the user will be opted-back into the Service.