Grassroots Campaign (Digital Edition)


A small cheer for grassroots pressure and self-regulation. Yesterday, the European Union began taking legal action against Britain for not applying EU privacy data rules to the Internet advertising tracker Phorm. Today, Amazon UK voluntarily decided not to allow Phorm to troll the site:

Amazon has said it will not allow online advertising system Phorm to scan its web pages to produce targeted ads.

Phorm builds a profile of users by scanning for keywords on websites visited and then assigns relevant ads.

It has proved controversial because it scans almost all sites a user visits and there is an ongoing political debate about how a user gives consent.

Last month the Open Rights Group wrote to the chief privacy officers at Microsoft, Google/Youtube, Facebook, AOL/Bebo, Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay urging them to opt-out of Phorm….

Amazon is the first company to give any sort of response at all.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, said: We expect more sites to block Webwise in the near future and also ISPs [Internet Servuce Providers] to drop plans to snoop on web users."

He said other sites—LiveJournal, mySociety and Netmums—had contacted the Open Rights Group to say they too would be blocking Phorm's technology.

Whole article here.

As I noted in a blog post yesterday, the EU is pretty upset that Internet users didn't consent to having their private information tracked and analyzed. The EU's bitching and moaning is confusing, though, because the EU's Data Retention Regulations 2009 went into effect earlier this month. The revised regulations force ISPs to hold customer data for up to 12 months, with no consent from Internet users' whatsoever. Open Rights Group, on the other hand, seems pretty transparent with its aims.

Two thumbnails way up to the "grassroots technology organization," which:

…exists to protect civil liberties wherever they are threatened by the poor implementation and regulation of digital technology.

And don't forget to consider upside of zero privacy.