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UK Gov Confirms Stalinist Desires

In a move which confirms its Stalinist desires for everyone to see, the UK “Government” has responded to the EU’s demands to investigate Phorm with a response that is so full of evasion, spin and bullshit you would have thought it came straight from a script of “Yes Minister”. Chris Williams at El Reg provides and excellent translation:

The European Commission is analysing the government’s explanation of why UK authorites have taken no action over BT and Phorm’s allegedly illegal broadband wiretapping and ad-targeting experiments in 2006 and 2007.

A spokeswoman for Vivian Reding’s information society and media commission confirmed that a response to its call for information had been received in Brussels and would form part a “legal assessment” of the trials. The UK government’s letter was about a month and a half late, the EU having originally set a reply deadline of the end of July.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), which coordinates UK diplomatic dealings with the European Commission, refused today to provide the full text of the letter.

It sent The Reg a statement detailing only a small part of the letter. It dodges the central issue: That the UK’s largest telecoms provider secretly monitored tens of thousands of its customers’ web browsing habits without consent, and that so far the Information Commissioner’s Office and the police have not taken any enforcement action.

The statement itself (which isn’t worthy of reproducing here because it is so evasive and useless) is like something from the script of Yes Minister, all evasion, spin and bullshit. Chris translates for us thus:

Yet BERR’s statement makes no mention of the two secret experimental deployments. Rather, it is a close relative of the Home Office’s disputed advice to BT and Phorm, repeating that the government believes future Phorm deployments could be legal if consent from ISP subscribers is obtained. [The Home office had contact with BT on interception for behavioural ad targeting from autumn 2006, but says it had no knowledge of the secret trials until they were revealed by El Reg.]

On top of that, Phorm’s PR and spin people, Citigate Dewe Rogerson (who seem to have been rather quiet recently) sent a release to The Register.  More evasive spin and bullshit.  I deal in facts, not spin, so their pathetic response is not copied here either.

Take time to read the comments made by readers of The Register to the responses of the UK government and Citigate Dewe Rogerson.  Then go to the Phorm public meeting footage and see Kent Ertugrul fail to offer any convincing argument for the Phorm “product” in the face of strong legal arguments from Dr Richard Clayton and Alex Hanff.  Have Phorm and BT actually published the legal advice they claim to have received?  Not that I have seen.  Prove me wrong if you can, Phorm and BT.  Publish the legal advice you claim to have received so that we can all examine it.

The bottom line is that there was no way the UK government would initiate a full investigation into Phorm and BT’s activities. The UK government wants the Phorm technology. Desperately.  Already it has said that it wants to retain full details of every SMS message, every e-mail and all web activity. Phorm will provide a major part of the technology to do this.

Who cares if it’s illegal? Not Gordon Brown, Jacqui Smith and the other Stalinists who want to interfere in every sphere of our lives. If this comes to pass the state of Gordongrad will have a surveillance regime in place that would have given Josef Stalin, Reinhard Heydrich and Erich Honecker perpetual wet dreams. Not even in Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany or East Germany would there have been such governmental interference in the lives of its citizens.

A number of Freedom Of Information requests have been submitted to BERR.  You can bet the responses (or lack thereof) will be reported on The Register.

What happened to “Britons never never never shall be slaves” ?

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