As the election campaigning continues, there are some people who need setting straight on Labour’s failures over the Phorm case. It’s not rocket science. It is not a matter of “intervening in private business” as some would suggest. It is a matter of enforcing the law.
Correct me if I’m wrong but if the law is broken then action must be taken against the lawbreaker. The status of the business or persons involved is irrelevant. Legality isn’t an emotive issue, it is one of fact. So here are a few facts and a few questions for Labour and its supporters.
1) Failure To Protect Internet Users From Illegal Surveillance
The government (and its various departments and quangos), by failing to act to prevent BT testing Phorm’s technology on its user base permitted thousands of breaches of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. This act received Royal Assent on 28 July 2000. It is, therefore, an act which Labour introduced. Yet the Information Commissioner’s Office and BERR refused to say “This cannot happen, it breaches RIPA” to BT and Phorm.
2) Failure To Enforce RIPA Legislation It Enacted
With the thousands of breaches of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act there should have been plenty of will to take legal action against the directors of BT and Phorm. Yet the ICO failed to put together a case. When Alexander Hanff did put together a case the Metropolitan Police demonstrated amazing lack of Clue in refusing to undertake a criminal investigation against BT and Phorm. Over a year on from receiving the same case evidence for a private prosecution, the CPS has still to make a decision about prosecution.
3) Refusal To Answer Freedom Of Information Requests
The Cabinet Office’s refusal to answer further FoI requests about “government” involvement with Phorm was and remains nothing more than covering the backsides of those in “government” from being exposed.
Now it just happens to be that Phorm’s technology is a breach of European Privacy Regulations as well. So when the Labour “government” couldn’t find the cojones to put the BT and Phorm executives responsible in court we anti-DPI campaigners reminded our representatives in the European Parliament and the European Commission that there was something illegal going on here.
Unlike this “government” they had the cojones to act. The UK government’s responses haven’t been very strong and it seems likely that there will be a new government in power once the legal action has completed. Yes, the EU, the organisation which many berate (rightly or wrongly, I offer no judgement here), stepped in where our own “government” failed so abjectly.
Dephormation has a nice explanation of the story that is well worth reading.
Here are a few more facts I posted earlier. May 2008 to be precise.
Do look at the videos from the open meeting about Phorm held on 15th April 2008. You can see a presentation from Dr Richard Clayton where he explains why Phorm’s technology breaches the RIPA legislation. Legislation that Labour enacted.
To this day I have yet to receive any response from Kent Ertugrul or Neil Berkett to my challenge over their use of DPI technology. I now extend that challenge to Labour ministers, MPs and supporters.
Why did you as a government fail to protect internet users’ privacy? Why did you as a government refuse to prosecute directors of BT & Phorm responsible for these breaches of RIPA? Why do you as a government refuse to answer valid questions about your involvement with Phorm?
On this basis alone Labour is not worthy of any trust. If re-elected how can they be trusted with any of our information if they allow it to be whored out to any bidder? How much further down the road to a total surveillance society will Brown, Mandelson, Balls, Straw and their cabal take this country?