Foolish Phorm

Earlier this year, I had some problems with a statement from the Open Solution Alliance's Anthony Gold. Here are my comments from the time:

A few weeks ago I wrote a post with the melodramatic headline “Is the Open Standards Alliance Betraying Open Source?”, in which I fretted that the new president of the Open Solutions Alliance, Anthony Gold, might go too far in his attempts to achieve interoperability with proprietary vendors.

Now, once upon a time, this impugning of an organisation and its new boss would have called forth thunder and lightning from the victim of my comments, with serried ranks of PRs assaulting me verbally, if not physically, until I retracted the post, or at least offered some profuse apology.

It's a measure of the new appreciation of the importance of engaging with criticism that is to be found in some quarters, at least, that, instead, Anthony kindly offered to explore my concerns further with me.

As I emphasised there, Gold's measured response to my initial fears not only addressed them, but left me feeling extremely positive about both him and his organisation. In short, he provided a perfect example of how you should respond to criticism in a world where, thanks to the Internet and the new spirit of openness that is abroad, companies can no longer dictate the terms of their relationship with you.

If Gold showed how to do it, here is a fabulous example of how *not* to do it, a website called “Stop Phoul Play”. Yes, you guessed it, Phorm has gone on the offensive:

The website that hits back at the "privacy pirates'" smear campaign against Phorm.

Over the last year Phorm has been the subject of a smear campaign orchestrated by a small but dedicated band of online "privacy pirates" who appear very determined to harm our company.

Their energetic blogging and letter-writing campaigns, targeted at journalists, MPs, EU officials and regulators, distort the truth and misrepresent Phorm's technology. We have decided to expose the smears and set out the true story, so that you can judge the facts for yourself.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. “Smear campaign” - not much constructive engagement there with your critics there, is there? And what on earth are “privacy pirates”? People who steal privacy? Er, wouldn't that be Phorm?

And if you have any doubt that Phorm is totally clueless about how to deal with the criticism it is receiving over its activities, you only have to notice the “Get the Facts” button attached to the alleged instances of “smears”: didn't they notice the blanket ridicule that was poured on Microsoft's similar attempt to spin?

And what might those “smears” be? Well, let's look at the first of them according to Phorm:

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