Phorm could compromise confidentiality for beneficiaries, says Youthnet

Fears about digital targeted advertising system

Online charity YouthNet has raised concerns about a targeted advertising system that it fears will compromise the anonymity of people using its services.

The charity says Phorm, which tracks people's internet use and sends them personalised adverts based on their interests, could jeopardise the anonymity of those accessing its confidential information and support service www.thesite.org.

Jim Valentine, communities manager at YouthNet, said young people could be deterred from accessing information on sensitive issues such as self-harm, drink and drugs or sex and relationships because they might be afraid of influencing adverts on shared family computers.

A spokeswoman for Phorm, which has not yet gone live in this country, said the service would not allow adverts in categories including sexuality, adult content, medical conditions and alcohol and would not carry out user profiling in these areas.

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