Phorm launches recommendation engine

Phorm, the company whose web analytics package has been fiercely criticised by privacy campaigners, has launched an online service that helps users find content of interest based on their past browsing history.

The service, named Discover, is a feature of Phorm’s highly controversial Webwise technology which allows Internet service providers (ISP) to analyse the online behaviour of their customers, and therefore serve targeted advertisements to them.

Customers of Phorm’s ISP clients will be able to use the service for free. Webwise Discover will also be of benefit website owners, who too can use it for free, by providing an insight into what visitors were looking for when they reached their site, the company argued.

Phorm was savaged in the press after it emerged that BT had secretly trialled its software in 2006, and the UK government has been threatened with legal action by the European Commission for allowing the trials to take place.

In April 2009, Viviane Reding, the EU’s commissioner for Information Society and Media, called upon the government “to respond more vigorously to new challenges to e-privacy and personal data protection, such as those that have arisen in the Phorm case.”
Clearly, though, the company feels that the free content recommendation for users and analytics functionality for website owners can outweigh that terrible PR and the privacy concerns of the public.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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