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Phorm Claim “We Welcome Government Investigation”

Well, they would, wouldn’t they?  Attempting another spin laden, obfuscating PR campaign, perchance?

Well here’s Jamie and  members of the NoDPI forum with their big Clue sticks to kill the spin and make things clear for everyone.

On their website Phorm say:

We welcome the decision by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Communication to examine internet traffic. We look forward to working with the Group, some of whose members we have met in the last year. In those meetings and going forward we will be happy to explain the enormous potential of Phorm’s internet advertising service with its industry leading privacy standards. Consumers will be given a clear choice over whether to participate in a system that uniquely stores no personal data such as browsing histories or IP addresses. Furthermore, our technology will redistribute the significant online advertising revenues in a more balanced way, helping ISPs to invest in better services for UK internet users. Our British-developed service has the capability to reshape the online advertising industry and enable us to become a new competitive force in this sector. We shall be in touch with John Robertson, MP and Derek Wyatt, MP in due course to make arrangements to offer our expert opinion.

I’ve got news for Kent Ertugrul and the rest of the Phorm board: you don’t need to “make arrangements” to offer an opinion.  The details on how to respond are quite explicit and detailed here.  Given Phorm’s reputation and behaviour I would question whether any opinion offered by Phorm can claim to be “expert”.  I’ll repeat the requirements for you, just in case you’ve missed them or need reminding of them:

Guidelines for responses:

*  Written submissions should be concise and address the matters raised by the inquiry. An effective response is unlikely to exceed 4 pages.

*  Please do not attempt to address all possible aspects of the inquiry, or to answer all of the questions posed. Instead, focus your response on the matters on which you have particular expertise or particularly strong opinions.

*  Submissions should be submitted by email either in plain text (ASCII), PDF , .DOC or .RTF format. Submissions should be dated and should include the name, address, email and telephone contact details of the individual submitter, or the person within an organisation who should be contacted.

Submissions and any other enquiries should be sent to:

admin@apcomms.org.uk

* It is at the inquiry’s discretion to publish any evidence it receives. Evidence will be attributed to individuals or organisations, but detailed contact information will be not be made public. Any other information that a witness would not wish to be considered for publication should be clearly marked.

The inquiry would like all evidence to be submitted by 22nd May 2009. Following consideration of the written evidence, the Officers of apComms will decide which organisations and individuals to invite to oral evidence sessions in Westminster on 15th and 17th June 2009.

One must ask if Phorm are attempting to gain preferential access to the Committee or a relaxation in the reply specifications.  After all, you can’t fit much spin in four sides of A4.

Given this statement I pressed the Committee Secretariat for a response to my concerns.  The first response didn’t answer those concerns fully so I pressed further:

Dear Laura,

Thank you for your e-mail.  Whilst informative it does not answer my concern.

The naming of two Committee members on the Phorm website could be seen to associate them with Phorm and smacks of an attempt to gain preferential access to the Committee or a relaxation in the terms of the response.

I do not seek to place a restriction on who can and cannot respond.  I seek clarification that the rules on submission will be the same for everyone and will be seen to be enforced across the board.  As of right now I cannot say that I have such a response.  That is a matter of grave concern.

I must ask for the Committee’s explicit assurance that all companies who seek to respond to the inquiry will be required to adhere to the requirements as clearly specified, which is as specified in your previous e-mail:

*  Written submissions should be concise and address the matters raised by the inquiry. An effective response is unlikely to exceed 4 pages.

*  Please do not attempt to address all possible aspects of the inquiry, or to answer all of the questions posed. Instead, focus your response on the matters on which you have particular expertise or  particularly strong opinions.

*  Submissions should be submitted by email either in plain text (ASCII), PDF , .DOC or .RTF format. Submissions should be dated and should include the name, address, email and telephone contact details
of the individual submitter, or the person within an organisation who should be contacted.

Simply put, will the requirements on Jamie Dowling submitting a response and on Phorm submitting a response be the same?

I look forward to being able to confirm to other interested parties that I have received such an assurance.

Yours sincerely

Jamie Dowling

It’s not rocket science but it is about ensuring fair play and consistent enforcement of submission specifications.  Why should Phorm and other DPI peddlers get preferential treatment by the Committee?

At 5:46pm yesterday (23rd April) I received this response:

Dear Jamie

I can confirm that all responses submitted to the apComms inquiry will be required to adhere to exactly the same requirements as set out in the press release. Review of submissions will be undertaken impartially.

In other words, everyone has to comply with the specification as it stands.  Including Phorm.

Got that Kent? Phorm get their 4 pages, just the same as me, just the same as everybody else.

Don’t forget Kent, because it’s a Parliamentary body we’re all dealing with, Freedom Of Information request status will apply.  So bet there will be FoI requests about any attempts Phorm make to approach the Committee outside of the submission specification.

Published inInternetparliamentaryPoliticsprivacyTechie

One Comment

  1. Phil

    “So bet there will be FoI requests about any attempts Phorm make to approach the Committee outside of the submission specification.”

    Oh yes, oh yes.
    bank on it.

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