Friday, 1 May 2009

Phoul Play or just a Phoul smell?

This morning I had my attention drawn to Phorm's new "Stop Phoul Play" website in which Phorm attacks it's critics and accuses them of "conducting a smear campaign" in what I can only describe as a deranged frenzy.

The site itself is an uninspired combination of the worse aspects of Microsoft's "Get The Facts" campaign, the copyright lobby's 'anti-piracy' propaganda and pre-war Nazi propaganda. It attempts to de-humanise it's critics by applying labels such as "Privacy Pirates", "The Angry Activist" and "The Concerned Consumer" to them in much the same way the Nazis did with European Jews.

A bit extreme?

Perhaps, but the use of de-humanising labels is extremely popular amongst those who's activities cannot stand up to scrutiny and while the Nazis were certainly one of the worst, they were neither the first nor the last to use such tactics. The copyright lobby's liberal use of the terms "pirate" and "freetard" to describe anyone opposed to their member's extortionate business practices is simply one example of this.

In this case it seems to have backfired rather badly and if anything, has only served to draw more attention to those critics and Phorm's alleged misconduct.

Quite frankly, the whole thing looks like something McBride and Draper might have cooked up after spending the entire afternoon in the pub. However the idea appears to have actually come from right-wing tory attack-rat Patrick Robertson, a 'PR consultant' who's own history of blunders rivals that of McBride.

Robertson's previous 'clients' include convicted perjurer Jonathan Aitken and it was while acting for Aitkin that he rather infamously faxed a confidential memo to the wrong number. A blunder he later compounded by surreptitiously obtaining the recipient's ex-directory phone number in order to leave a message on his answering machine asking for the fax to be returned.

This remarkable display of bad judgement can be found here:-

Stop Phoul Play

Some of the media coverage can be found here:-

The Register article 1
The Guardian
The Register article 2

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