Feeds

CPS to consider private prosecution over stealth Phorm trials

Opponents call for public interest trial

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The Crown Prosecution Service will examine evidence that BT and Phorm's stealth advertising targeting trials broke wiretapping laws, despite a recent police refusal to pass the case to prosecutors.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions told campaigner Alex Hanff that a private prosecution under section one of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) is possible. The Director must give his consent for such a prosecution.

The evidence against BT and Phorm must pass two tests. First an assessment of whether there is a "realistic prospect of conviction", which attempts to objectively judge whether a jury would be more likely than not to find BT and Phorm guilty of breaching RIPA. Second, the CPS judges whether a prosecution would be in the public interest based on pre-defined criteria*.

Campaigners were angered last month by the City of London Police's view that there was no criminal intent on the pair's behalf and "there would have been a level of implied consent from BT's customers in relation to the tests, as the aim was to enhance their products". The force had been handed a dossier detailing how broadband users were monitored and profiled in secret in 2006 and 2007, including BT's own technical report on the earlier trial.

The same evidence will now be passed to the CPS. It's not known how long a decision will take.

If the Director of Public Prosecutions does grant consent to prosecute, the CPS will take over handling of the case. His Office wrote: "It may also be necessary for them to liaise with the City of London police to determine whether there are any other avenues of investigation which can reasonably be pursued."

Last week the European Commission said it still wants answers from the UK government on why no action has been taken over the trials. The Foundation for Information Policy Research has argued that the EU's Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations were breached, and Commissioner Viviane Reding has said that specific consumer authorisation would be required for ISP adware to be legal.

In other Phorm news today, the firm announced to the stock market it had cancelled 30,000 stock options issued to an employee who has now left. A spokesman refused to reveal any details of the departure. ®

*The criteria the CPS uses to assess whether a prosecution is in the public interest are set out in paragraphs 5.9 and 5.10 of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, here (pdf).

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.