Feeds

Prosecutors prep decision on BT-Phorm case

Day of reckoning approaches for criminal probe

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The Crown Prosecution Service is close to settling on whether to prosecute anyone over BT and Phorm's secret interception and profiling of internet traffic.

Prosecutors have disclosed they plan to announce their decision at the end of November, following an investigation lasting more than two years. They are deciding whether to press criminal charges against unnamed individuals under Part I of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which makes interception an offence except in special circumstances.

When The Register revealed in 2008 that BT had twice trialled Phorm's targeted advertising system on tens of thousands of its customers without permission, internet law experts, including the Foundation for Information Policy Research, argued the firms had acted illegally.

A decision to prosecute would be a bold move for the CPS, as police declined to formally investigate the affair. Following a complaint against BT and Phorm by privacy activist Alex Hanff, City of London Police said no offence had been committed because the firms did not have criminal intent.

Hanff then passed a file on the trials directly to the CPS. Its subsequent investigation has included reexamining City of London Police's treatment of the complaint and gathering opinions from independent experts.

According to its own guidelines, the CPS' decision whether to charge will be based on two factors. First, prosecutors judge whether the evidence against the defendant offers a realistic chance of conviction. Second, they decide if a prosecution would be in the public interest.

"Broadly speaking the more serious an alleged offence the more likely it will be that a prosecution is needed in the public interest," the guidelines say.

The CPS said (.doc) it anticipates it will have spent £5,250 investigating the case by the time it comes to a decision next month. If charges are brought, it will be the first known criminal case relating to interception of internet traffic.

Any prosecution under RIPA Part I is a rare event, with the best known example being that of the News of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who helped him intercept voicemails. Both were jailed in 2006, for four months and six months respectively.

In an earlier prosecution, Demon founder Cliff Stanford received a suspended prison sentence for intercepting emails on a corporate server.

Regardless of the CPS decision on BT and Phorm, a separate legal action relating to the trials is ongoing. The European Commission is taking the UK government to court to force it to change the law, after the failure of any UK enforcement authority to take action exposed loopholes in privacy legislation. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.