A former law student Alexander Hanff (U.K.) wrote his dissertation on deep packet inspection technology used by PHORM, a company that tracks your actions on the Internet. PHORM creates a behavioral profile about you and sells it to other companies. Some companies, like PayPal, have their transactions routed via PHORM servers to profile their customers. This caused a controversy in 2006 leading to litigation in the U.K. and elsewhere.
Your task this week is to research PHORM or PHORM-like business activities and post a brief piece about the likely legal issues arising in current and future litigation cases. Can PHORM-like surveillance be stopped short of outlawing it? If so, how? Can PHORM-like behaviors be detected proactively and legally? If so, how? Is there a history of litigation in the US about PHORM-like activities? If so, what are the outcomes?
Here’s some potential information sources for you:
- Wikipedia has a pretty good overview of the Phorm controversy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phorm
- Read the transcript of this podcast, Security Now episode #153, here:
(p.s. … the earlier parts of this transcript involve advertising and “ha-ha” talk: do a ctrl-find for “Phorm” to find the beginning of discussion and the overview about the problems to privacy posed by PHORM.)
- Take a look at Alexander Hanff’s dissertation online (or similar works) regarding PHORM and deep packet inspection technology.
- Look for U.S. litigation cases involving this issue and ferret out the legal issues for and likely defenses against behavioral profiling and what evidentiary challenges could arise.
- There are no “right or wrong” answers. The purpose of this tasking is to have you discover the legal and evidence recovery issues involved and report on them. The objective is to ensure you grasp the range of issues involved, the complications of litigating over this type of privacy issue, and to think about the future of privacy infringements in our novel technology world.
- There is no limit to your response. But, try to make your major points in bullet form or another easy-to-read form briefly.