Feeds

Police quiz BT on secret Phorm trials

RIPA? Never heard of it officer...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

City of London police questioned BT earlier this week as part of a probe into the covert wiretapping and profiling of the internet use of tens of thousands of BT customers during tests of Phorm's adware system.

City of London CID met BT representatives on Tuesday.

Officers have been examining the dossier of evidence handed to Wood Street police station by campaigners following the 16 July protest against BT's planned full deployment of Phorm's technology. It included the internal documents detailing the 2006 trial, which we reported here.

There's no indication as to whether formal proceedings will be brought. Considerations will include whether it falls within City of London police's remit to investigate crimes that affect the residents or workers of London's financial district, and whether charges would be proportionate and in the public interest.

BT ran a test in September 2006 that sought to target web advertising based on 18,000 of its broadband subscribers' behaviour. The internal report on the two week operation said that its specific aim was to track users without them noticing. A second, similar experiment in summer 2007 tracked tens of thousands more. Since details of BT's actions were revealed by El Reg, more than 17,000 have signed a Downing Street petition calling on authorities to investigate.

A spokeswoman for City of London Police said she was unable to provide any information on Tuesday's meeting because no decision has yet been taken on whether to formally investigate. It is thought senior officers will decide that within two weeks.

BT, which declined to comment today, has said it took legal advice that said running the trials without customer consent was legal. It has not detailed what the advice said, and data law experts have charged that it broke several criminal statutes.

Most notably, an analysis (pdf) by the Foundation for Information Policy Research's legal counsel Nicholas Bohm concluded that the trials had broken the Regulation of Iinvestigatory Powers Act (RIPA) as well as data protection and fraud laws. The Home office's own advice, obtained by BT after it had run the two secret trials, said deployments of Phorm's systems would only be legal under RIPA if consent was obtained from ISP subscribers.

The European Commission is pursuing its own investigation of Phorm's technology and BT's trials, parallel to UK police enquiries. The government this week said it will respond to a Brussels request for an explanation of its apparent failure to enforce privacy directives later this month. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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?
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.