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Can someone explain what is going on here?
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Moderators: Jim Murray, narcosis, felixcatuk, Sammy, revrob
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PI
Tue Apr 07 2009, 04:12PM
Registered Member #635
Joined: Tue Apr 07 2009, 12:42AM
Posts: 10
Moderators Note (28/04/2009): If you are arriving here from stopphoulplay.com please take the time to read the WHOLE THREAD, don't just stop at the Phorm-selected soundbite. Be aware that we haven't edited, altered or changed anything on this thread since it was originally posted - we want people to make up their own minds about Phorm. You'll probably find the rest of this site quite interesting too - it's rather well balanced for a 'smear campaign'.




I sent this privately last night to one of your key people for comment but have heard nothing back, so I will post here.

Two weeks ago a trusted industry colleague mentioned in passing that he had been told by one of Phorm's competitors that Privacy International will soon "feel the heat" from the anti-Phorm lobby.

I didn't give the comment any real attention at the time, but  I certainly will do now. In the past week there has been a substantial surge in hostile emails to us, and even emails to our advisers and Trustees complaining that PI has not taken an aggressive position on Phorm. Almost nothing for six months, and now this.

What I want to know is this:  how is it that one of Phorm's commercial competitors knew in advance that this activity would take place?

Unless I'm sorely mistaken, something here smells rotten. If people here are talking with the enemy's competition (who are in the same business as Phorm) then there's a possibility by any standards in the real world that they are also taking money or advice from them or that they have some other vested interest.

I've been completely transparent about my relationship with Phorm. It has been a matter of public record and public debate. Now I have to ask just how open and transparent some of the oppoments have been. I have the highest regard for such as Alex Hanff and FIPR, who deserve enormous credit not only for their tireless work but also for their credibility. Now I want to know who these newcomers are. What of their motivation and their interests?

I sense that the debate you have created is about to be - or has already been - hijacked by one of the oldest subterfuge tactics of all time. You need to be aware who is lobbying in your name. And if it sounds like I am angry, that's because I am angry. After the fiasco with Google over the past week I'm damned if I'm going to let Privacy International become the meat in the sandwich of commercial tactics by competitor companies in the online ad industry.

I will get to the bottom of this but in the meantime you might all want to think very carefully about the implications of what has just happened. Unless you can give me a convincing explanation about what has taken place I will assume that this "battle" with Phorm has been moved by vested interests from a debate over lawfulness and morality to one of commercial advantage and competition.

Simon Davies
Director
Privacy International

[ Edited Tue Apr 28 2009, 10:07PM ]
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felixcatuk
Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:09PM
felixcatuk


Registered Member #95
Joined: Wed Mar 05 2008, 12:03AM
Posts: 2626
What a bizarre assertion to make, from someone who is contracted to Phorm, been paid by Phorm, and has played no discernable part in the campaign to protect communications from Deep Packet Inspection.

I imagine at least one of the reasons why some 'heat' might be predictable is this.

Last year you personally promised that the video tape of the last town hall would be published in full, unedited.

Let me refresh your memory;

Please note: we have arranged for this meeting to be professionally filmed. The entire event will be placed unedited on the Web shortly.

Those videos were never published.

So is it any wonder, on a night when Phorm are once again staging a town hall event in the LSE, that people might once again question your commercial relationship with Phorm.

Being public about your relationship with Phorm is not the same thing as being independent as you claim on the Privacy International web site.




[ Edited Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:22PM ]
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JohnHorb
Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:20PM
Registered Member #63
Joined: Sat Mar 01 2008, 08:00AM
Posts: 7
I'm dumbfounded! After all the recent PI pronouncements on various Google initiatives, why is it surprising that people should ask why the conspicuous silence on ANYTHING Phorm-related. I'd like to know who these supposed 'newcomers' are. Most people I see posting on the issue have been involved from the start.
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revrob
Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:21PM
revrob

Registered Member #372
Joined: Wed Apr 23 2008, 04:09PM
Posts: 640
I wrote a polite but challenging email to PI this week and had a substantial reply from Gus Hosein. My email was not prompted by, nor influenced by, any Phorm commercial competitor. It was not part of any co-ordinated subtle plan inspired by any commercial interest. I am campaigning for protection of my privacy, not for the financial benefit of any commercial company.

I sent that email, and posted on the topic of PI on my own initiative. No one one other than I myself, decides what letters or emails or posts I send or who I send them to. My email was motivated solely by my puzzlement that PI are actively speaking out on a number of internet related privacy issues at the moment, but continue their long silence on Phorm. As I was not given permission to publish the PI reply then I have not done so.

Up until now I have been inclined to give PI the benefit of the doubt, but for that situation to continue, I would need to see some clear evidence that PI were capable of making independent and robust comments on any "catastrophic corruption in consent" whether they occur with Google's mobile phone apps, or a company using DPI for interception and profiling. An ongoing silence from PI provides no such reassurance.

I am aware of a considerable rise in general press coverage of the Phorm issue over recent weeks, and it is going to become increasingly difficult for PI to remain silent on this matter and retain credibility. While mainstream press had Phorm on the backburner the silence of PI was not particularly frustrating when measured against the general press reluctance to cover the story. That is no longer the case.

I can't speak for anyone else, but if your allegation is that I have been improperly influenced for commercial reasons by a Phorm competitor, then please withdraw it. I have no financial links to any Phorm competitors, and have received NO financial or other incentive to pursue the matter of PI's lack of comment on DPI and Phorm both on their own website and in the wider media. I don't have any lawyers to wave around but I do value my integrity. I have received financial assistance to cover the costs of transport to ICO DPO conference in Manchester earlier this year, and that did not come from a Phorm competitor.

[ Edited Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:47PM ]
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PI
Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:39PM
Registered Member #635
Joined: Tue Apr 07 2009, 12:42AM
Posts: 10
revrob wrote ...

I can't speak for anyone else, but if your allegation is that I have been improperly influenced for commercial reasons by a Phorm competitor, then please withdraw it. .


We have already been in touch with each other. If I wanted to make such an allegation I'd make it directly to you. I am not saying "you" are the weasel in question. After our correspondence I accept that you are working for all the best reasons and that you have acted with integrity. I am concerned about all the other emails and calls that have come out of the blue this week from people I've never heard of.

And please don't shovel this crap about how the public have all of a sudden become wise to PI's "hypocricy" over our attack on Google.

If  people here haven't even considered the risk of subversion by commercial interests then I would advise that you take a quick breather from expressing your angst about me and read up a little more about campaigning 1.0.1 You've done brilliantly, but maybe you still have something to learn.

Simon Davies
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O2
Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:39PM
Registered Member #381
Joined: Wed Apr 30 2008, 09:16AM
Posts: 89
Simon, if indeed this is Simon.

I suspect this could be a ruse to start some infighting in our campaign but here goes.

Firstly I do not condone threats or harassment of any kind. I say to anyone sending threatening emails find a better outlet for your anger. Write to your MP, the ICO, submit some FOIs.

I've been posting over a year under one alternative name on here and a second alternative on NoDPI.  I will PM you my email address and we can talk openly about my specific grievance.

Maybe the upsurge is a coincidence? I know Phorm has been getting a lot of exposure recently and whilst I will never condone threats of any kind I must also say Kent has been doing his bit to goad the campaigners with quotes like he made today in the BBC piece.

I also know other companies are starting to spin the war against Phorm into their advantage.  You may notice the message is morphing into Phorm and DPI being unacceptable but we can live with targeted adverts.  DPI is becoming the focus.  But isn't this down to Alex's involvement? And despite a couple of public spats with Alex I too believe he is beyond reproach in this.  Also other countries and the EU are independently coming to this conclusion, so I doubt there are subversive powers at work.

And whilst we're on conspiracies, what about the other people with vested interests? The manufacturers of DPI kit! Haven't they done their fair bit of lobbying in the past?  It would be in their interests that countries install kit e.g. to fingerprint and check for copyright infringement in transit.  It would be in their interest for Phorm to succeed.

I am not (officially) affiliated to any company, but I work in the industry, as do many of the posters on here and NoDPI. So if a company offers to help out say with legal or travel costs and their aim is the same as ours, then why should any of us turn this down? Is this immmoral?

I'm not an idealist, I'm a technologist who doesn't want my web surfing broken by 3 unwarranted redirects and cookie phorging.

I'm dissapointed at the serious problems with my web traffic during the 2007 trials.  I was seeing duplicate TCP ACKs and packet checksum errors.  I was concerned I was being bugged.  Numerous calls to BT tech support drew a blank.  This type of behaviour by BT and Phorm is simply rude and impolite.  I feel let down.

I'm disappointed about inaction from the government over failure to investigate.

And yes I'm disappointed in you and your involvement.  The campaign for me never was about Phorm.  It was about the RISK of private companies given access to such a rich stream of highly sensitive information.  A RISK which I believe was obviously never going to be mitigated by any safeguard other than a blanket rule outlawing this type of profiling.

Whilst your involvement may have mitigated a specific risk that is Phorm's software at a specific date and time, it didn't address the wider problem:

Once Phorm had rolled out there was nothing to stop rivals following, rivals who may have paid less attention than Phorm did to data protection and privacy.

A law already exists - a law which you've discussed in the past but which did not feature in your PIA.

I believe an outright ban is the only way to mitigate this risk.  Don't believe their is a risk?  How much would a hacked DPI server in even a small ISP be worth to cyber-criminals looking to steal a few passwords or redirect traffic to trojan websites?

I wrote to Privacy International in February 2008.  A good personal friend of mine tried to call you several times - you (reportedly) never returned his calls.  You claim to have been up front about this but I disagree.  PI didn't make a public statement about the relationship between you and 80/20. It was left to campaigners like us to write to news outlets and correct them regarding mis-use of Privacy International's name.  Reporters were at first openly hostile to my approaches because they couldn't believe a company like Phorm with a major contract with BT would get that wrong and put it on their own website.

And finally, you talk about an upsurge in threats and I still say this has nothing to do with rivals, nothing to do with an orchestrated campaign and nothing to do with campaigners on this or NoDPI websites.

But could it have anything to do with you stirring the bee's nest with your comments about Google Street View?  A service which may have privacy implications but has also enriched the lives of millions across the country.  Take a virtual walk to your old university digs, revisit a walk to your gran's old house and see how the neighbourhood has changed.

I'm still upset 19 months on since BT and Phorm meddled with my connection.

I'm sorry your getting threats, you don't deserve them, but that doesn't stop me speaking out that I think you were wrong to get involved with Phorm.  It's a personal opinion and I'm willing to talk about it but you didn't want to engage last year.

In general, marketing companies across the board top my list of companies I hate doing work for.  You never know where they really stand, and for that reason alone I don't want them snooping inside my ISP
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PI
Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:53PM
Registered Member #635
Joined: Tue Apr 07 2009, 12:42AM
Posts: 10
That's a very thoughtful and persuasive response 02, and I thank you for it.

Beliebe me, I am thinking long and hard at the moment, at a number of levels. This week has convinced me that the goalposts have been moved, and I will have to look closely at my options. I will respond in much greater detail as I digest the facts and as I find out more about the involvement of rival companies in this debate.

One point I would like to correct though... you might recall that I posted )possibly) a couple of hundred times on the Cable forums last year. I recall often writing well into the early hours on many evenings. It's not that I haven't engaged, it's just that I was optimistic that my long term assessment of the direction the sector was taking was correct.

I promise you, I am thinking about the points that have been made over the past fifteen months. And I will respond publicly. However this last episode has left me with a churning feeling in my gut. I need to find out what is really going on.

Simon
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VforVendetta
Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:56PM
Registered Member #281
Joined: Wed Apr 02 2008, 11:59PM
Posts: 620
Simon

Just to make my position clear: I believe that PI carries out important work and I applaud it for doing so.  I think it is essential that all those who carry out surveillance on us, stockpile data on us and profile us need to be held in check.  

On the subject of the remark by one of Phorm's competitors it does seem  to coincide in time-scale with an article published 25 March 2009 on the guardian.co.uk site:
Google and Privacy International at war over claims of dirty PR tricks and Microsoft bias

The article has a passage referring to Phorm and was quite pointedly critical of PI.  It sounds like this article may well have prompted the remark that was reported to you. 

V

PS Feel free to PM me.  I don't run this site, I only post on it.

[ Edited Tue Apr 07 2009, 06:58PM ]
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revrob
Tue Apr 07 2009, 07:24PM
revrob

Registered Member #372
Joined: Wed Apr 23 2008, 04:09PM
Posts: 640
PI wrote ...
revrob wrote ...

I can't speak for anyone else, but if your allegation is that I have been improperly influenced for commercial reasons by a Phorm competitor, then please withdraw it. .


We have already been in touch with each other. If I wanted to make such an allegation I'd make it directly to you. I am not saying "you" are the weasel in question. After our correspondence I accept that you are working for all the best reasons and that you have acted with integrity. I am concerned about all the other emails and calls that have come out of the blue this week from people I've never heard of.

And please don't shovel this crap about how the public have all of a sudden become wise to PI's "hypocricy" over our attack on Google.

If  people here haven't even considered the risk of subversion by commercial interests then I would advise that you take a quick breather from expressing your angst about me and read up a little more about campaigning 1.0.1 You've done brilliantly, but maybe you still have something to learn.

Simon Davies


I've no idea what your comments about shoveling crap are about, or what the public are or are not wise about. I don't remember mentioning those things.

I did mention the ongoing silence of PI being less and less credible given the inreasingly high profile of DPI and Phorm in the mainstream press. That's true. I suppose I could sit down and draw up a list of what organisations have been commenting recently who have never commented before, and of what they have been saying. The list of organisations and media outlets who are throwing their oar in, on the subject of Phorm is growing every day. Even the BBC have finally grasped the nettle and mentioned about Phorm's unique selling point for its particular model of BTA being Deep Packet Inspection at source within the ISP. In fact I'm finding it difficult to think of a mainstream paper or privacy body that HASNT said anything about DPI and Phorm recently. Except that of course, PI haven't said anything. And really, I think, given your organisations prinicples and goals, I think you OUGHT to have something to say.

Here is what PI say:

About Privacy International 07/12/2007
Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. PI is based in London, England, and has an office in Washington, D.C. We have campaigned across the world to protect people against intrusion by governments and corporations that seek to erode this fragile right. We believe that privacy forms part of the bedrock of freedoms, and our goal has always been to use every means to preserve it.

Overview -- Watching the Watchmen and their Watchers 09/08/2004
Most countries around the world regulate the interception of communications by governments and private individuals and organizations. These controls typically take the form of constitutional provisions protecting the privacy of communications and laws and regulations that implement those requirements. Many countries also regularly invade the privacy of communications or use other methods of electronic surveillance, sometimes in contravention to these same constitutional provisions.

Overview -- Growing interactivity means growth of personal information 09/08/2004
The growth of the Internet and electronic commerce has dramatically increased the amount of personal information that is collected about individuals. As consumers engage in routine online transactions, they leave behind a trail of personal details, often without any idea that they are doing so. Much of this information is routinely captured in computer logs. 

I would like to hear what PI think on the use of DPI by ISPs, to provide profiling data, for use on a commercial basis by advertising companies for the purposes of delivering behaviourally targeted advertisiing.

Given what you say above, I think you OUGHT to have something to say about Phorm and DPI and its use in BTA.

After all, tonight Phorm are busy discussing anything BUT DPI at the LSE. Hopefully the journalists will manage to raise a few DPI related questions.

If any of them ring PI for comment, what will you say?
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PI
Tue Apr 07 2009, 07:26PM
Registered Member #635
Joined: Tue Apr 07 2009, 12:42AM
Posts: 10
Thanks everyone for your comments.

80/20 Thinking will be making a statement about its position and its future direction at lunchtime next Tuesday.
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