Phorm’s Webwise is a tracking system that places a cookie with a randomized number of a user’s machine. According to the BBC, that cookie takes note of the websites visited, and starts targeting ads for the user based on the information gathered. The sounds simple enough, right?Wrong. The system, due to be trialled by three UK ISPs, is already running into controversy over its privacy, or lack thereof. One ISP, TalkTalk, has said itwill make the system and opt-in, rather than default. Now the Open Rights Group (ORG) is demanding more details about Webwise. "Untilwe know exactly how Phorm works, and across whose networks our data will flow, speculation about the privacy implications will continue," the group said, and wondered openly if the systemcomplied with the law, although a Home Office review concluded that it did, as long as users gave their permission and also agreed to new terms and conditions. In a statement, Phorm responded, "Our technology complies with the Data Protection Act, RIPA and other applicable UK laws. Consumers are in control – they can switch the service off or on. Meanwhile the system doesn’tknow who they are or where they’ve browsed as it doesn’t gather personally identifiable information, doesn’t store IP addresses or retain browsing histories. We are currently in conversation with theOpen Rights Group to meet with them and look forward to explaining how our technology sets a new standard in online privacy."
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