Feeds

EU sues UK.gov over Phorm trials

We didn't do nothing

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The European Commission is suing the UK government over authorities' failure to take any action in response to BT's secret trials of Phorm's behavioural advertising technology.

The Commission alleges the UK is failing to meet its obligations under the Data Protection Directive and the ePrivacy Directive.

The action follows 18 months of letters back and forth between Whitehall and Brussels. The Commssion demanded changes to UK law that have not been made, so it has today referred the case to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

Specifically, European officials firstly charge that contrary to the ePrivacy Directive there is no UK authority to regulate interception of communications by private companies.

BT customers who complained about the secret Phorm trials - revealed by The Register in 2008 - were told the Information Commissioner had no powers to investigate. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal meanwhile only has authority over interception by government bodies.

Secondly, the European Commission says the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which sanctions commercial interception when a company has "reasonable grounds for believing" consent has been given, does not offer strong enough protection to the public. The City of London police dropped their investigation of the Phorm trial, claiming BT had reasonable grounds to believe it had customers' consent.

European law says consent for interception must be "freely given, specific and informed indication of a person's wishes". BT did not obtain, or attempt to obtain, such consent to include customers' internet traffic in its testing.

Finally, the Commission says the provisions of RIPA that outlaw only "intentional" interception are also inadequate. "EU law requires Members States to prohibit and to ensure sanctions against any unlawful interception regardless of whether committed intentionally or not," it said.

If the government loses the case, it faces fines of millions of pounds per day until it brings UK law in line with European law.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we are in discussions with the Commission about this directive, and are disappointed the Commission has decided to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

"We are planning to make changes to address the Commission's concerns, and will be setting out more detail on any necessary amendments or legislation in due course."

The full statement from the European Commission is here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.