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UK Now On Final Notice Over Phorm

Phorm and the UK “government” might just come to realise that the backlash against internet snooping and illegal DPI based advertising is a serious one.

The EU has announced that it is moving to the second phase of its proceedings against the UK government over its failure to enforce laws protecting internet users’ privacy.

The Register starts its report on this story thus:

The UK government today came a step closer to international embarrassment over its failure to act against BT and Phorm for their secret trials of mass internet snooping technology.The European Commission said it had moved to the second stage of infringement proceedings after the trials, revealed by The Register, exposed failings in the UK’s implementation of privacy laws.

BT and Phorm intercepted and profiled the web browsing of tens of thousands of broadband subscribers without their consent in trials in 2006 and 2007.

The furore generated by the scandal forced Phorm to withdraw from the UK market, but police and the Information Commissioner’s Office both declined to take any action against the firms.

One might have thought that this news would be worthy of discussion at Phorm’s upcoming AGM.  But I doubt that will happen.  After all Kent Ertugrul has yet to respond to my challenge to publish a verifiable legal opinion backing the legality of his Webwise “product”.  It’s been about 18 months since I made that challenge.

The comments after El Reg’s report are good stuff and one or two have suggested that those involved in collaboration with BT and Phorm could well get away with their involvement in breaking the law.  That must not be allowed to happen.  As I said in my submission to the APComms Inquiry (report is a PDF document)

Jamie Dowling felt that enforcing the law was important, even for events in the past that might not recur:

The failure of government and watchdogs to enforce existing law in relation to the 2006 and 2007 secret testing by BT and Phorm provided a seed from which a very strong campaign has emerged.

Government must enforce the law wherever it is broken, regardless of whether an individual or a corporation has broken the law.  Government has a duty to respect and enforce European law to which it is a signatory.  It has failed to do that and rightly faces legal action for that failure.

Nazi war criminals are still prosecuted for their crimes from years ago.  Other criminals are prosecuted for their crimes in previous years.  Why shouldn’t those involved in allowing these crimes to happen face judicial process?

Those involved in the collaboration with BT and Phorm, whoever they are, whatever their status and regardless of for whom they were working must face the courts.

Published inbad managementbusinesscampaigningcomputersethicsFreedom Of InformationInternetlack of ClueparliamentaryTechie


  1. Midnight_Voice

    Ummm, I hate Phorm as much as you do, and revile BT for colluding with them, but you sailed a bit close to Godwin’s Law there, Jamie.

    Let’s keep a sense of proportion now…..

  2. Jamie Jamie

    Hi Midnight_Voice,

    I’ve been watching a lot of Secret Army and its follow up series Kessler lately (the local libraries here have an excellent selection of DVDs for loan) so the comparison with people who committed crimes in the past & were evading justice was one which was ready to hand. I didn’t want to use an obscure sci-fi reference which very few people would get.

    Criminals should be prosecuted for their crimes no matter what time has passed since the crime. I can see no reason why those who collaborated with Phorm & BT (whether in private companies, government or quangos) should not stand trial and truth be told, I’m a bit miffed that the APComms Inquiry team might be suggesting that they could or should get away with it. Perhaps it depends how you read the report. Perhaps not after an hour and a half of Kessler.

    Be assured that calmness and proportion are restored chez Jamie. All is well with peace and a nice hot cup of Darjeeling. And contemplation of what to get for a special someone’s birthday.

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