Feeds

Home Office defends 'dangerously misleading' Phorm thumbs-up

'Protecting the public'

Security for virtualized datacentres

Updated The Home Office today defended advice it gave BT and Phorm that their "Webwise" agreement to track millions of broadband subscribers will probably be legal if consent is obtained.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that neither BT nor Phorm sought any government advice on the wiretapping trials conducted in autumn 2006 and summer 2007. The lack of notice was confirmed to campaigners by Home Office Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) expert Simon Watkin.

The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR), which has carried out detailed technical and legal analysis of the proposed system, wrote to the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith yesterday to urge her to withdraw the advice it gave in February this year. FIPR's open letter (pdf) said: "Your department's note can now be seen to be significantly incomplete and dangerously misleading."

FIPR argues that Phorm is disingenuously using the Home Office's advice to claim legitimacy. A legal counterpoint to the note, written by FIPR's chief counsel Nicholas Bohm, charges that - notwithstanding BT and Phorm's two secret trials in 2006 and 2007 - the final system will break wiretapping, fraud and data protection laws designed to protect the public.

In a statement, the Home Office emphasised that the note should not be taken as gospel by anyone. It said: "We can't comment on the legal position of targeted online advertising services. It is up for [sic] the courts to interpret the law.

"We did prepare an informal guidance note. It should not be taken as a definitive statement or interpretation of the law, which only the courts can give. It wasn't, and didn't purport to be, based upon a detailed technical examination of any particular technology."

A spokesman said the department would not be making any direct statement on FIPR's call for it to withdraw the advice. It provided this general comment:

Working to protecting [sic] the public, we can help industry understand the threats to public safety from emerging technologies and achieve a workable balance between commercial and public safety interests.

We welcome companies sharing commercially sensitive ideas and proposals with us in confidence if that means public safety considerations and legal obligation [sic] can be taken into account, where appropriate, in the conception of new products and services.

Ultimately it is a free commercial market and providers of goods and services need only ensure they are compliant with relevant legislation.

Read on for details of political manouvering to make BT accountable for the secret trials...

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
Former Bitcoin Foundation chair pleads guilty to money-laundering charge
Charlie Shrem plea deal could still get him five YEARS in chokey
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.