Phorm is used by several major UK ISPs to spy on their users
Phorm is a controversial adverising system being trialled by some UK ISPs*. It works by tracking any site a user visits, and then sending a spider to that site to index it for advertising purposes. So basically spyware, but alarmingly it’s spyware installed at your ISP, so you have no control over it’s tracking of your surfing behaviour.
If you own a site or a blog and you feel uncomfortable about this development you could normally choose to block the system by adding an entry to your robots.txt file. Phorm don’t play nicely with this though. They’ll only dodge your site if your robots.txt blocks both Yahoo and Google. Frankly, blocking spiders from the two biggest search tools isn’t an option (and we presume Phorm know this). I find this kind of unhelpful setup pretty revealing about Phrom’s attitude to users in general.
Your only practical option if you wish to block Phorm’s spiders is to submit all your domains manually to this email address:
I’d advise all site owners to do so immediately, for the protection of your users.
*UK ISPs currently signed up to Phorm include BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. The latter of whom are bastards anyway.
Update (06 July 09):
BT have decided to pull out of Phorm. Hooray!