During 2008 and 2009 I made and repeated this simple challenge to Kent Ertugrul, CEO of Phorm, and his supporters. I then extended that challenge to Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media.
“This is a simple challenge to Kent Ertugrul and anyone who is a pro-Phomer:
Over the last couple of years I’ve asked you here and in other forums to make public the legal opinion you have which argues against Dr Clayton, Nicholas Bohm and Alexander Hanff. This isn’t about emotive language, it is about legality. Legality is fact. Not an emotive issue. Commissioner Vivian Reding sees this as a legality issue.
Legality is not an issue you can think “Oh well, it doesn’t matter” and ignore it. Any law student will tell you that ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law. It is one of the first things you learn in a law class! Until I see a verifiable legal opinion to the contrary (a QC opinion will do, with full name, signature, date, time, full address and references so I can verify it) I will consider Phorm’s Webwise product (or whatever name you choose for it, such as the Discover and Navigator monickers) as it stands an illegal invasion of privacy.
If you can’t do that then please don’t waste my or other peoples’ time with spin, bluster, obfuscation and attempted smears.
On your smear campaign site you claim that people like me bully and intimidate people who question the belief that Webwise is illegal.
Prove it. Show me evidence of intimidatory language or bullying on my part.
I deal in facts. Not lies, not spin, not baseless claims, not unwarranted bullying.
Look how much Phorm’s share price has plummeted. That’s another fact.
Look at how much of a rewrite your website has had. That’s another fact.
Your smear campaign website has gone. That’s another fact.
Your CTO has left. That’s another fact.
Not once has any representative from Phorm contacted me with a verifiable legal opinion. That opinion is the only fact Phorm can publish that is of any interest to me.”
To Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media:
Now that Virgin Media has announced plans to impose DPI technology on its user base I challenge Neil Berkett in the same way:
“Phorm have never provided legal opinion confirming their Webwise product is compliant with UK and EU law. I challenge you to publish a qualified verifiable legal opinion confirming that the CView technology you intend to implement is wholly compliant with UK and EU law.
It’s not difficult.
I was one of many who tried to dissuade you from being involved with Phorm but your addiction to “monetising intelligence” seems to be unbreakable.
If you are a man of honour Mr Berkett you will publish the legal opinion.”
I have received no response from either Mr Ertugrul or Mr Berkett.
In 2015 Ertugrul left Phorm – a company that has never broken even or turned a profit since its inception.
Phorm continues to go from country to country in search of gullible people who believe that a quick buck can be made from screwing privacy. Whatever name the company may rebrand itself as, whatever else Ertugrul may involve himself in, both will forever be associated with violating that most important right of internet users.
My advice to Phorm is simple – give it up. This and other pro-privacy sites aren’t going anywhere.