Phorm Phorces Which? To Retract Critical Survey, Uses Defamation Threat

imageThe retraction came in so quick, we hadn’t even seen the original press release. Under legal pressure, consumer mag Which? on Wednesday hastily called back a survey it issued indicating public opposition to on-ISP behavioural ad targeter Phorm. Which? sent the following statement…

“Urgent withdrawal of press release from Which? – Internet users say: don’t sell my surfing habits. Which? has received further information and representations from Phorm about the proposed Webwise service, and it has agreed to withdraw the above press release, issued under embargo on 24 February 2008, while we consider them. Some of the information in the press release and related article is said to be inaccurate and as a consequence may be defamatory. You are strongly urged not to write an article based on the press release or the related article ‘Online privacy matters’ in Which? magazine.”

As The Reg notes, Press Association, Channel 4 News, and Mail Online all had to remove or amend articles. Since the retraction, the exact nature of Which?‘s original release are sketchy but are thought to suggest opposition amongst internet users to their browsing habits being used in ad targeting. Until now, Phorm’s response to the barrage of suspicion it received last year has been a PR offensive; not so much a legal crackdown. Phorm general counsel David Pester left the company in December, replaced by Sharon O

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