U.K. Web Tracking Firm Phorm: We'll Come to the U.S., Eventually

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A House inquiry forced Silicon Valley-based NebuAd to shelve its plans to help ISPs track their users and serve targeted advertising. But that's not going to stop U.K.-based Phorm, which has similar ambitions, from attempting a launch in the U.S.

As part of its interim results, Phorm CEO Kent Ertugrul said the U.S. is a "market of great interest" to the firm, but also hastened to add that "we do not have any consumer trials proceeding in the market."

Recall NebuAd was exposed by the House inquiry for having launched consumer trials in the U.S. with little or no notice given to ISP users. As a result of the bad publicity, U.S.-based ISPs suspended their work with NebuAd and CEO Bob Dykes left soon after.

Phorm's experience in the U.K. has been smooth by comparison. Earlier this month it received official blessing from the U.K. Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and it is launching trials with British Telecom, Talk Talk and Virgin Media.

NebuAd isn't the only firm that wants to use "deep packet inspection" to target web advertising, but it attracted added attention for the stealthy way it went about its work with its ISP partners.

Phorm has a New York office, and clearly it would like to lay the PR groundwork to expand in the U.S. Part of this will no doubt be a pledge to notify users up-front and give them an easy way to opt out. Will it be enough to mollify privacy advocates and their allies in Congress? We'll soon see.
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