Questions Raised Over Phorm's Legality As BT Admits It Tested The Service Secretly

from the transparency,-transparency,-tranparency dept

While Phorm has gone on a charm offensive to try to convince people that its efforts are not as bad as some are making them out to be (including, by the way, using my post as a de facto forum), it appears that the effort still isn't convincing skeptics. Tim Berners-Lee made some news last week for suggesting he would switch ISPs if his started using a service like Phorm, but the bigger backlash may be coming from the legal arena. First, there was the news that BT (who had originally denied this) tested Phorm's technology, without letting users know, last summer. That has resulted in some people threatening a lawsuit. And, speaking of lawsuits, a bunch of scholars and think tankers are pointing out that Phorm may actually be illegal based on current UK laws, if it's used without first getting users to "opt-in."
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: clickstream data, tim berners-lee, uk, user tracking
Companies: bt, phorm


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 17 Mar 2008 @ 3:13pm

    More generally, on opt-out

    I think it's now axiomatic that if you can opt-out of something, then you want to. Companies keep telling us how much we want these things and how great there are for us...but seem very very reluctant to make their case and let us choose to opt-in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2008 @ 6:21pm

    It is illegal

    now what ... a slap on the wrist.
    bad BT - bad Phorm
    now go sit in time out

    meanwhile, the data collection continues

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Mar 2008 @ 6:36pm

    Above the law

    If things with BT in GB are anything like they are with AT&T in the US then BT is essentially above the law anyway so it doesn't matter if it was legal or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nismoto, 17 Mar 2008 @ 7:24pm

    We don't need no stinkin ads...

    Why is it that we (internet users) seem complacent in letting businesses tell us that we want more relevant advertising?

    Just for the record, I DON'T WANT ANY ADVERTISING!!!!!

    I use the internet to educate myself, keep in touch with friends and loved ones, work, share my interests and masturbate.

    I also shop online but far less than I do the other things mentioned above. I don't need a bunch of stiffs telling me want I am interested in or what I want.

    FUCK ADVERTISING AND THE MINDLESS SHEEP THAT NEED IT!! Google text ads are just as bad as the images-that-look-like-Windows-forms-so-you'll-click-on-them and, yes, ad-revenue business plans are wack.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Phorm Comms, 19 Mar 2008 @ 5:05am

    Just one legal (untested) view

    Hi Phorm Comms Team here

    We don't agree with FIPR's analysis. And its description of the Phorm system is inaccurate. Our technology complies with the Data Protection Act, RIPA and other applicable UK laws. We've sought our own legal opinions as well as consulted widely with experts such as Ernst & Young, 80/20 Strategic Thinking, the Home Office, Ofcom and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). We discussed our system with the ICO prior to launching it and continue to be in dialogue with the organisation.

    There's loads more information on www.webwise.com and you can put your questions directly to our CEO in a live webchat on Thursday (20 March) at 1.30pm - the URL is www.webwise.com/chat

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      tony, 20 Mar 2008 @ 3:39pm

      Re: Just one legal (untested) view

      hi comms team

      Just a point for you to remember.

      Telling the same lie over and over again, does not make it true

      The the Home Office advice was not legal opinion, it was advice from civel servents. Thy have been know to be wrong in the past.

      20/80 thinking, well we all know you lied about that one... PI anyone.

      Ernst & Young, not it people or legal people. did teh assesment under American, not UK law.

      The ICO.. Only recieved paers a few weeks ago you you can not have been in talks with them.

      I could go on, but the spin is making me dizzy

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.