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Wikipedia and Amazon opt out of UK controversy

Amazon and Wikimedia will sidestep the storm brewing around Phorm and the British ISP’s.  Last week, after the announcement by the European Commission that charges would be brought against the United Kingdom for failing to conform to the EU Data Protection Directive, both Amazon UK and Wikimedia announced they will not participate in the behavioral advertising vendor’s work.

The BBC reports Amazon UK spokesman Craig Berman released a statement: “We have contacted Webwise requesting that we opt out for all of our domains.”  The company declined further comment on the decision rationale.  “All we’re saying is we’ve chosen to opt out,” he said. “I don’t know if they’ve even implemented anything yet.”

In an email posted to the Wikimedia tech blog Thursday, Wikimedia stated:

“The Wikimedia Foundation requests that our web sites including Wikipedia.org and all related domains be excluded from scanning by the Phorm / BT Webwise system, as we consider the scanning and profiling of our visitors’ behavior by a third party to be an infringement on their privacy.”

In a statement, Phorm said: “There is a process in place to allow publishers to contact Phorm and opt out of the system, but we do not comment on individual cases.”

The Open Rights Group urged major Internet companies to opt out of Phorm each time more circumstances come to light, said it was very pleased with Amazon’s move.

“By choosing to block the contentious online advertising system from scanning its Web pages, these firms have taken the positive choice to protect their users’ privacy and their own brands.  We expect more sites to block Webwise in the near future and ISPs to drop plans to snoop on Web users.”

As the European Commission moves further with their case against the United Kingdom, and more publicity surrounds Phorm and Webwise, everyone should expect more companies trying to distance themselves from the situation.

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