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July 22, 2009

Nationwide Building Society rejects Phorm


by Brian Turner

The Nationwide Building Society has become the latest company to opt out its websites from the controversial Phorm (Webwise) advertising system.

Nationwide decided against allowing user behaviour on its website to be monitored by a third party in order to protect the privacy of users.

According to a letter from the Nationwide: “We have had discussions with our online advertising agency on Phorm and as a result of this review we have decided to contact Phorm and ask them not to scan the Nationwide website. Investigating the service that they are looking to offer, we do not see the benefit to our customers or to us of allowing them to scan the Nationwide website in this way.

We will be getting in touch with Phorm over the next few days, though we are unfortunately unable to confirm how long it will take for them to action our request.”

The Nationwide Building Society joins a growing number of websites, such as Livejournal, Wikipedia, and Amazon, which have publicly opted out.

The future of Phorm is looking increasingly challenged, after major ISP’s initially behind trials, BT and Carphone Warehouse, decided against proceeding with the Phorm/Webwise system.

Virgin remains the last major UK ISP to be reportedly still interested in using Phorm, but at present will offer no public backing to Phorm.

Phorm has been roundly criticised across internet industries as undermining user privacy through its tracking system.

However, criticisms of Phorm represent the tip of an iceberg when it comes to privacy issues online.

Other major internet service providers, not least Google and Facebook, are repeatedly coming under fire for holding private user data for commercial tracking and advertising purposes.

Story link: Nationwide Building Society rejects Phorm


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