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Secret (And Illegal) Phorm Tests: What Did BT Tell The ICO & When?

While Phorm’s share price continues to drop (200p at the time of writing), more facts are emerging about the secret testing of Phorm’s technology undertaken by BT in 2006 and 2007.

Remember, this is the company that  repeatedly denied the testing until confronted with the evidence and the company that has banned any discussion of Phorm from its support forums. Perhaps BT is hoping that its decision to drop Phorm will persuade people to forget its part in an illegal activity.  Rest assured we won’t.  The EU’s legal action is ongoing and there will be a reckoning.

Then this appeared from Dephormation on the NoDPI forum (my emphasis):

I’ve just received an interesting letter from David Hanson MP at the Home Office.

He stated ‘British Telecom (BT) conducted secret trials using Phorm technology in 2006 and again in 2007. Those trials were conducted by BT without reference to Government’.


Read full letter here;

The post continues with some interesting points (again my emphasis):

On Monday after the APComms session, Mike Galvin (BT Design Managing Director, 21C Customer Experience) attempted to shout explain to Rob that BT had involved the ICO at every step of the trials of Phorm.

We already know (from earlier FoI requests) that can’t be accurate. ICO claim to have first been advised of the 2006 and 2007 trials in 2008.

And now the Home Office too are stating categorically they were not told about the trials.

So Mike Galvin, if you’re reading this… you could join us and explain?
Did you tell the ICO about the trials in 2006 and 2007?
Did you advise the Government about the trials in 2006 and 2007?

Now if Mr Galvin did raise his voice even slightly during the APComms Inquiry then that is surely a hefty failing from the Managing Director of the “21C Customer Experience”.  Shouting won’t do BT’s plunging reputation any good.

We are facing questions over the claims versus the actual behaviour of BT in this secret and illegal (in my opinion) testing.  It seems that either the ICO is peddling untruths or someone at BT is.

Given Ian Livingston’s public declaration of ethics and practices in his The Way We Work page (and my subsequent challenge to him) these questions deserve answering in full and in public.

Or has Mr Galvin conveniently forgotten these lines from The Way We Work?

  • Compete vigorously but fairly in our markets, being honest and trustworthy in all our dealings.
  • Be truthful, helpful and accurate in our communication.

I challenge Mike Galvin and Ian Livingston to come to NoDPI with honest answers to these questions.


In a written Parliamentary answer, Lord West of Spithead says in reference to the secret BT & Phorm trials

“Neither the Home Office nor any other government department had knowledge of those trials”.

The answer details which government departments were involved in responding to the EU’s notification of legal action.  This did not include the ICO.

I ask again Mike Galvin:

Did you tell the ICO about the trials in 2006 and 2007?
Did you advise the Government about the trials in 2006 and 2007?

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