Feeds

Prosecutors gather evidence on secret BT-Phorm trials

'Implied consent' to be probed

Security for virtualized datacentres

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is gathering evidence on BT's covert trials of Phorm's ISP-level adware system to help it judge whether it is in the public interest to allow a private prosecution for breach of wiretapping laws.

CPS lawyers have asked to see the file handed to City of London police in summer.

After interviewing BT executives in September this year, the financial district's force declined to bring charges. It said that the tens of thousands of customers whose communications were hijacked and profiled during two tests in 2006 and 2007, which were revealed by The Register, had given implicit consent.

Frustrated campaigner Alex Hanff then wrote to the CPS for leave to bring a private prosecution under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. A CPS spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday that the Complex Casework Centre is working on the case.

The file handed to police included BT's internal technical report from 2006, which we obtained earlier this year. It describes the the first trial as "stealth" and says customers were not told their wire was being tapped "as one of the aims of the validation was not to affect their experience".

The CPS will determine whether there is sufficient evidence the secret testing was against the law and whether it would be in the public interest to bring a case to court. The file will then pass to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC, who will have final say. If he gives consent, the prosecution will be brought by CPS lawyers, despite being a "private" prosecution. Such trials are very rare.

The CPS spokeswoman was unable to estimate how long the process will take, but several months is not unheard of. She said it was likely deliberations would again focus on the question of whether BT and Phorm had any consent to intercept traffic.

BT has always maintained it took legal advice that the trials were legal and always declined to produce that advice or give any details of its basis.

Meanwhile, the European Commission is considering the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform's response to its second letter asking for an explanation of why no action has been over the trial. A Brussels spokeswoman said the UK responded to the October 6 letter on November 13. The second EU letter contained "detailed questions on how the UK authorities have protected the privacy of UK citizens with regard to Phorm in the past, and how they intend to do so in the future," she said.

"The Commission is currently analysing the response."

If the Commission believes authorities failed to enforce European privacy directives it could bring a case against the UK at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US
Biting the bullet would let Blighty-based biz flip the bird at AT&T
Net neutrality fans' joy as '2.3 million email' flood hits US Congress
FCC invites opinions in CSV format, after Slowdown day 'success'
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.