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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amazon Opts-Out of Phorm/Wiseweb

Last month, the Open Rights Group contacted Microsoft, AOL/Bebo, Yahoo, Amazon, and other top websites, and asked them to opt-out of the new Phorm advertising system. The ORG and others say the advertising system collects personal and highly sensitive data about surfers, data which could be used against them. Phorm, also known as Webwise, specifically collects such data to target consumers with "relevant" ads - that is, ads keyed to their online activities and the sites they visit. Today, Amazon reports that all of its domains have opted-out of Phorm. Amazon is the first company to respond.

The executive director of ORG, Jim Killock, told the BBC other sites - including LiveJournal, mySociety, and others - had also blocked Phorm/Webwise. The European Commission said it was looking into Phorm and data protection laws regarding the technology. It called it "interception" of data and wants a more clearcut process by which end-users can opt-out of being targeted by it and others like it.

About a month ago, Web inventor, Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, warned against such technology, referring to it as "snooping." He was specifically discussing Phorm/Webwise, though online monopoly, Google, had just released their own profiling advertisement technology.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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