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Phorm boss blogs from a dark, dark place

Ertugrul shouts at the bins

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Phorm boss Kent Ertugrul has launched an extraordinary attack on critics of the snooping technology used by his company to target internet advertising.

His website, the pithily-named Stop Phoul Play, describes criticism of Phorm as a "smear campaign" and people who make such complaints as "privacy pirates". The Register even gets a mention as "The Media Mouthpiece" of this shadowy conspiracy.

The Telegraph ran a story this morning parroting many of Ertugrul's allegations including claims that Alexander Hanff is a "serial agitator" because he wrote a letter of complaint to Procter and Gamble some years ago. The paper also reported that he was fined £30,000 in his absence by a US court for copyright infringement. Coincidentally Phorm recently hired Mike Moore as its commercial director - Moore was previously general manager of digital at The Telegraph. Phorm also press-released the bizarro blog.

On his blog Hanff accepted the accusation of letter-writing - he complained to P&G that its largest nappies were not available in bulk packs. He was also involved in a US copyright case - we covered it here - and lost his job as a result. But Hanff said he had never been contacted by the court about any fine.

The site, which reads like the worst paranoid rantings of the company's critics, also suggests that Phorm's critics are somehow being funded by competing companies. The end result of all this of course is to draw attention to the very critics it seeks to dismiss.

In other Phorm news, the BBC has seen emails between Phorm and the Home Office, in which the ad firm asked for "informal guidance" about its service. LibDem Baroness Miller described the emails as "jaw-dropping". This will be less of a surprise to Reg readers who were paying attention in June 2008 when we first revealed suspect contact between the Home Office and Phorm partner BT.

The Home Office denied the accusation of collusion with Phorm.

A spokesman said: "Any suggestion of 'collusion' is totally unfounded. We have repeatedly said since these documents were released a year ago that the Government has not endorsed Phorm or its technology.

"We are committed to protecting the privacy of UK consumers and will ensure any new technology of this sort is applied in an appropriate and transparent manner, in full accordance with the law and with proper regulation from the appropriate authority." ®

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