EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding has issued a statement threatening to sue the UK over their stance concerning behavioural advertising and Phorm. I covered this last October – Ofcom was saying it was OK for ISPs to use Phorm provided they were transparent about it despite the fact that the EU was saying it was illegal.
In the UK the use of Phorm is being driven by BT, other ISPs having stepped back, afraid of the negative publicity. The reality is that the whole industry would jump at the opportunity to make more money out of advertising, at least the consumer ISPs who have the volume subscriber bases.
Although there are huge privacy issues involved I think the momentum is beginning to gather to the extent that the use of behavioural advertising is bound to grow. Facebook, for example, must already use this form of database mining because when I visit Facebook, as I am wont to do, I often see adverts for golf and guitar related subjects – those being two of my stated interests. Google is also talking about selling advertising based on a given user’s recorded web searching habits.
The UK Government has two months to respond. The EU press release can be read here.