The furore around Phorm continues. This time, it is the release of emails, requested under the Freedom of Information Act by a member of the public, between the Home Office and Phorm that are causing the bother.
The BBC report shows that the Home Office were in contact with Phorm back in 2007, endeavouring to discover the nature of the technology and
exchanges were about helping the department understand “public safety considerations and legal obligations” about behavioural advertising in general.
For any in the UK internet marketing industry who have been considering behavioural advertising, the fact that the EC started legal proceedings against Britain just a fortnight ago about the interpretration of EU laws on confidentiality of communications shoule be borne in mind.
Whilst behavioural advertising may have benefits for commercial entities and consumers alike in delivering targeted advertising rather than inundating consumers with irrelevant advertising, there has to be care taken over how it is a) implemented and b) perceived from now on.
On the second point, the PR damage done to those companies who stated they planned to use the technology is quite considerable, although when as a company you have approx 28% of UK broadband market share, the dissenters and damage may seem trifling. For smaller companies, it could cause a major problem.
We have by no means seen the last of the Phorm debacle yet, although it is highly likely that behavioural advertising will be adopted at some point in the future, as other companies are also launching their own versions and behavioural guidelines have been issued which come into force in Sept 2009 in the UK.