27th March 2008
Dear Sir Michael,
I am writing with regard to your current partnership with the company “Phorm”.
As I’m sure you are aware, there has been a great deal of media interest surrounding this development, and many commentators and consumers have expressed concern.
I am deeply troubled by reports suggesting that you conducted a series of technical tests using Phorm in June 2007, without gaining your customers’ prior consent. Are you able to confirm that this is the case? If so, I would also be grateful for your assurances that these customers have been properly recompensed, that they are all now aware that they were part of these tests, and that no activity of this type will happen in the future without first gaining the customers’ permission.
While I welcome Phorm’s attempts to make privacy and security a central part of their product, I also believe that customers who will be tracked must give their explicit consent before this happens. In my view, a system whereby consumers ‘opt-in’ to Phorm would be far more transparent and appropriate than the ‘opt-out’ system proposed by Phorm.
I cannot find any information about Phorm on your website and urge you to make your position clear. I would be grateful if you could tell me whether you are currently operating Phorm, what your understanding is of your legal obligations with regard to implementing this service, and whether you intend to make this an ‘opt-out’ only service.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Don Foster MP
Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary for State for Culture, Media and Sport