Phorm Fights Back With Public Meeting; Still No Deployment Date

imagePhorm claims it could transform the way ISPs and online publishers monetise the web. But we’re still no closer to finding out when the company’s controversial software will be commercially deployed in the UK or elsewhere. The company held a “town hall” style meeting at the London School of Economics on Tuesday night. Despite expectations of a barrage of anti-Phorm sentiment, there was no heckling, shouting or much at all in the way of controversy. Phorm had even asked sceptics to join the platform and speak against the company, but in the end all declined the offer.

Phorm fielded a panel including former Tory Chancellor Lord Lamont, a non-executive director; Kip Meek (pictured, left), chairman of the Broadband Stakeholder Group and also a non-executive director and the company’s recent hires Mike Moore and Sarah Simon (also pictured) who took turns to demonstrate the potentially transformative effects Phorm could have on the revenue models of ISPs and online publishers by allowing advertisers to more effectively target consumers based on what they read online. Ertugrul is sick of people accusing Phorm of being labelled illegal, or as spyware and said it should be the whole online ad industry on stage being grilled, not just him. More Phorm after the jump…

No date set: Even after the announcement of a trial in South Korea, AIM-listed, pre-revenue Phorm says it is still working with its UK ISP partners BT (NYSE: BT), Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) and Carphone Warehouse and that deployment will come at some stage. It’s talking to “many” ISPs outside that trio, according to Ertugrul, and not just in the UK. “These things take a great deal of time…you can be assured that when we do announce something, it’ll be ready.” The company has plans for how to incentivise users to opt in — plus it is considering how to bring its software to mobile and IPTV. But, of course, it can’t talk about it right now.

Privacy fightback: “There comes a point when you run out of facts,” is how an exasperated Ertugrul describes the daily process of refuting claims from privacy campaigners and irate bloggers that Phorm is breaking the law or invading privacy. No hard-core dissenters were apparent in the audience, but Ertugrul still had a few choice words for them: