Report: Amazon blocks Phorm from its U.K. site

Company blocks online behavioral-advertising platform as European Commission takes action against the U.K. over compliance with data protection regulations, BBC reports.

Update at 9:08 a.m. PDT, with a statement from Phorm.

Amazon.com has reportedly blocked the use of the controversial behavioral-advertising system Phorm on its British site, according to a BBC report.

The move comes as the European Commission takes action against the United Kingdom, alleging that the country failed to adequately comply with data protection laws in Europe.

In the case involving the United Kingdom, the Commission initiated action after complaints arose over Phorm trials British Telecom launched in 2006 and 2007, in which it allowed Phorm's behaviorial-tracking technology onto its network without users' consent, according to a ZDNet UK report.

Amazon was not immediately available for comment Wednesday morning.

Phorm, however, said in a statement

There is a process in place to allow publishers to contact Phorm and opt out of the system, but we do not comment on individual cases.

Phorm's technology is designed to allow its customers to observe a user's behavior while online, such as Web sites visited or keywords entered, and then serve up relevant advertisements based on that behavior. The controversy over Phorm's technology revolves largely around privacy issues.

In the case of Amazon.co.uk, the BBC reported that the online e-commerce giant issued a statement that it had contacted British Telecom's Webwise, which markets the Phorm platform, and requested that all of its domains be opted-out of the program. According to the BBC report, Phorm noted that it has policies that allow customers to opt out of its system.

And that is what The Open Rights Group is hoping a number of major Web site publishers will do. Last month, the organization called upon Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, eBay, and Amazon to opt out of the Phorm system, according to the BBC report.

And from that group, Amazon marks the first company to give an indication that it is taking such action, the BBC noted.

 

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