Feeds

back to article BT's secret Phorm trials: UK.gov responds

The European Commission is analysing the government's explanation of why UK authorites have taken no action over BT and Phorm's allegedly illegal broadband wiretapping and ad-targeting experiments in 2006 and 2007. A spokeswoman for Vivian Reding's information society and media commission confirmed that a response to its call …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Black Helicopters

Oh yeah, how does it go...

...if you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide....

The reluctance of UK Gov to disclose their response smells fishier and fishier. I'm wagering £100 right here that the home office has stitched up a secret deal with BT to arrange a back door in to Phorm so that they can snoop on whoever they like. Any takers? Prove me wrong.

God I hate the new icons

0
0
Silver badge

Human Nature Being what IT is, Get Real....

"In July the Commissioner said: "It is very clear in EU directives that unless someone specifically gives authorization [to track consumer activity on the Web] then you don't have the right to do that."" .......Having the Ability Requires that the Right be Exercised and Free Choice given on Field Findings in Service...... which whenever you read Phorm Caveats and Provisions are Equitably Disposed to Denial of Service Provision although certainly with no Guarantee against Random Collection for Comparitive Testing. IT is as well to Accept that there is no Valid Reason or Excuse to Justify No Go Areas in CyberSpace and TeleCommunications Transfers/Loded Trails.

0
0
Bronze badge

Another Government fact-ignoring mission

Write it down! Then ignore it!

0
0
Ash

Opt in / out

That's grand, but will my data COME CLOSE to Phorm hardware / software if I opt out?

If it's the whole "Tracking cookie which will be deleted every time you close your browser, Mr Security Conscious Person." style of opting out, then it's all rubbish.

Said it before, say it again; Do not want, will leave if it's brought in.

0
0
Joke

AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

This is crap. This response is a joke. The undisclosed text no doubt contains the part about how this technology is vital to the UK's war on terror......or that there was no text but a very large cashiers check.

Most likely not but it's pretty clear that the only folk who take this seriously are us. I was talking to a friend of mine who works in the games industry on the network side of MMOs: he didn't have a clue what I was talking about. No one does. No one cares. As long as they get their email, BBC iPlayer, euro millions results and loads of porn I doubt most net users have any interest will even know what' happening. I'm still hopeful though. We'll see what the Euro Commission has to say in their reply.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

So how does this work then?

"We believe it's important to have an open and frank discussion... it's not normal practice to disclose [such letters],"

How can it be open and frank if you don't disclose the letters?

I think it's time for a freedom of information request.

Need a CCTV/Big Brother icon for this.

They are watching you.

0
0
Flame

MP response

Gah! I know that the response from my MP regarding the whole EC thing will just contain that fob-off from the article, and then I'll write ANOTHER letter in response to that, which will take another 2 months to get replied to...

Still, mustn't give up. Every single letter written has the potential to be the one that makes a difference.

Anyone brought Private Eye's attention to this? It's the type of story they'd like for their "In the back" section. Email on its way to them in a few minutes.

0
0

As usual

they have missed the point. It's not just what Phorm, or anyone else, does with the data. It's whether the data leaves the control of your ISP (who, wisely or not, you have decided to trust) and gets into equipment belonging to a third party. Whatever promises people make, it is fundamental to privacy that data should go no further than it has to.

I get the impression that the government is bending over backwards to avoid examining Phorm too closely. It seems to be in line with the New Labour habit of going weak-kneed whenever they come into contact with the big and powerful.

0
0
Boffin

See through this yet?

So is that 'transparent' as in everyone knows what is going on, or 'transparent' as in no-one can see what is going on?

0
0
Dead Vulture

In bed together.

Looks pretty clear from what I've read the Uk government and this proven spyware company are in bed together on this and we're about to be targets for both of them.

God help us all...

0
0
Thumb Up

In the main...

..I agree with everyones comments here. My suggestion would be to get to the WhatDoTheyKnow.com website and start submitting your FOI requests to central Gov through them. That way we can all see just how evasive they get!

I'm not affiliated with the site but I do work in FOIA and DPA.

Oh and 'word' to the Reg for keeping on top of this story.

0
0
Ian

Goodbye BT

They phoned me up last week, ignoring the TPS, to ask me if I wanted to re-sign my contract at a two quid per month discount. I declined, citing the impending Phorm roll-out (had I been smart I'd also have complained that the much bruited Webwise phishing protection hadn't been delivered, but that might have been a bit too subtle). They said `OK' and moved on to the next mark.

0
0
Silver badge
Paris Hilton

I just love the...

...commitments to diversity, the environment and a better society.

They only missed out showing a picture of a cuddly kitten in the arms of....you guessed it!!

0
0

FOIA

Are the Register terriers going to be following this up with a Freedom Of Information request? I certainly hope so, considering the contempt with which our elected representatives are treating us.

Where's my "Mendacious fucking bastards" icon?

0
0

Phail

"the government believes future Phorm deployments could be legal"

They keep saying that, but it's not the *future* activity that's under discussion - it's the past, illegal, deployments we'd like some action on!

We need someone to snoop on them without permission...

0
0
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: FOIA

The FOI request is in.

- Chris Williams

0
0
Thumb Down

Is this the end of unencrypted data comms in the UK?

So the UK Government are stripping web site creators/electronic commerce business/online publishers of the right to privacy, security, and integrity in their unencrypted data communications.

Never mind the rights of copyright owners in the UK and abroad.

If you're with BT its time to get a MAC code. If your business uses BT to host web applications its time to find a new hosting service provider. And if you run a web site, time to consider blocking BT IP address ranges, or charging a premium to BT customers, or invoicing BT for copyright royalties. If you send data to or within the UK, consider encrypting those communications because BT cannot be trusted to carry that data.

This Government has lost its mind.

This is perhaps the beginning of the end for all unencrypted communication in the UK. And why? Marketing and advertising idiots dictating the design of a communication network, and a deranged misguided corrupt Government.

0
0
Thumb Down

Is this th

So the UK Government are stripping web site creators/electronic commerce business/online publishers of the right to privacy, security, and integrity in their unencrypted data communications.

Never mind the rights of copyright owners in the UK and abroad.

If you're with BT its time to get a MAC code. If your business uses BT to host web applications its time to find a new hosting service provider. And if you run a web site, time to consider blocking BT IP address ranges, or charging a premium to BT customers, or invoicing BT for copyright royalties. If you send data to or within the UK, consider encrypting those communications because BT cannot be trusted to carry that data.

This Government has lost its mind.

This is perhaps the beginning of the end for all unencrypted communication in the UK. And why? Marketing and advertising idiots dictating the design of a communication network, and a deranged misguided corrupt Government.

0
0
Silver badge
Black Helicopters

WTF!

Lets face it. Phorm is a pathetic '2 bit' spyware operation. They are less than nothing. Why is an organisation like BT bothering to deal with these losers and why is the UK Gov't bothering to defend them. Why not come right out and say Phorm is illegal (which it blatantly is) and be done with it?

The Black Helicopter icon is the obvious answer to the above questions.

0
0
Thumb Up

@ Chris Williams Re: FOIA

Good man.

I believe the obligation to respond is "... promptly, and at most within 20 working days". Let's see what they have to say.

0
0
Stop

Phorm does not provide anonymity

"Phorm does not have nor want information which would enable it to link a user ID and profile to a living individual."

This is a mis-leading statement and does not tell the whole story.

Any company that has a website that displays Phorm's ads (OIX) and who also keep a record of user's names (e.g. any site that requires any kind of registration) will be able to link Phorm IDs to real people simply by using one single HTTPS-enabled page.

Using HTTPS prevents the Phorm cookie being stripped from a user's web-requests, thus the website owner can see your Phorm ID and so suddenly you're not so anonymous as Phorm badly wants you to believe you are.

0
0
RW
Pirate

The failure of spin

All the marketing droids amd spin doctors may as well go join the homeless bankers under their bridges. Don't they realize that this kind of fluffy-bunny, empty, hand waving, devoid-of-meaning prose merely arouses suspicion? If, that is, it doesn't confirm previously held suspicion?

Your very failure to address the core issues says your employer (HM Gov) are hiding something they're ashamed of.

They used to say there were lies, damned lies, and statistics. Now we can say there are lies, damned lies, statistics, and spin.

Didn't work guys!

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Curious timing...

Lots of other news about this week isn't there, with financial institutions going titsup all over the shop, and the wheel's slowly being pulled off Mr Brown's premiership... "a good day to bury bad news"?

There was a time when I'd have thought my comment above to be bordering on paranoia but I've lost all faith in our elected officials over this ongoing saga - it should be straightforward enough - BT appears to have clearly broken the law with the trials, so should be prosecuted, and the proposed system seems at odds with RIPA, so should be denounced as such.

As one who's previously been Eurosceptic, I find the EU's line to be somewhat re-assuring, as is the interest taken by our non-democratic Lords....

Time to get the pen and paper out and write to my MP, BERR, and Ms Redding again. I'll wager only one of them gives me an answer that's not full of crap.

I might also write a letter to BT's data controller and CEO explaining that I host a small website behind an opendns url and I don't want it profiling under any circumstances, but that their customers are free to view the content for non-commercial purposes. And ask how their technology plans to afford me my statutory rights under RIPA. I won't be expecting that answered either mind you...

0
0

Why do they bother?

There is nothing they could ever say which would make me feel easy about "using" Phorm now, let alone feel that it provided me with any benefit.

0
0
Black Helicopters

Whitewash

It will be interesting to hear how the EU respond to this large pail of whitewash that the government has deployed.

I mean, we expect politicians to sidestep the public asking such questions, but if the privacy and legal questions have not been answered (and lets face it, EU law appears to indicate that Phorm are up the creek on this one) then the explosion is likely to be most visible and entertaining.

I'm hoping Private Eye will pick up the baton as well.

0
0
Silver badge

a "unique 'privacy by design' approach"

Phorm's defence is that it's okay to collect information from you using an illegal wiretap if they respect your privacy later on? That truly is a unique approach to 'privacy by design'.

0
0

@Goodbye BT

The TPS doesn't apply when there's an existing business relationship, so BT are free to call you as often as they like (within reason) to try and get you to do more business with them.

The TPS (and MPS) *should* stop you receiving unsolicited communications from organisations you don't do business with.

0
0
Alert

PR ...

In response to the PR Agency posting at the bottom of the article.

The UK user population's position on Phorm's technology reflects our widespread requirement to allow transparency in corporate and govennment systems that wish to make use of personal data.

We believe that it is a mandatory requirement that all data harvesting to be OPT-IN not OPT-OUT. We further believe that any system that does permit OPT-IN should permit later OPT-OUT with a full retroactive removal of all data held by any 3rd party.

We will continue to engage with the Police, Government (not that they want to listen), BT (not that they care about their customers), Phorm (not that they have the slightest idea how much they are narking off people) and the EU (who seem to be actually listening - a bit) to ensure that those companies and persons who have conducted "tests" should be held fully and openly accountable in law for any breach of data protection or privacy laws.

Our belief is that any 3rd party seeking to use any kind of data that we, as a private individual create, should seek explicit permission before making use of said data regardless of how it may pass through systems under their control.

We will continue to engage with all parties; especially regulators and other consumers; and we are excited at demonstrating that we are not to be taken lightly in any attempt to abuse data, no matter how much other organisations think they can get away with making money out of it.

0
0

How about opt in rather than opt out

See subject

0
0
Flame

OMFGBBQ

Whitewash.

Hopefully the EU if contact will release the document, Chris drop Vivian a email and ask.

0
0

4 magic words

Shouldn't the content of that letter be available to anyone making a request under the freedom of information act?

(In my wide-eyed innocence, I'm of course assuming the Government would play fair and honour such a request and not try to weasel it's way out of it)

0
0
Pirate

They stole our information

They should both be fined and Phorm should be banned from operating in the UK.

0
0
Sam

transparency?

Err, where?

Don't these expendable talentless losers realise we know bullshit when we see it?

Get in the queue behind the overpaid Lehman ponces to sign on, while people who actually work for a living have a good laugh.

0
0
Flame

RE: Phorm does not provide anonymity...

It could also result in a new kind of phishing - Phishing for Phorm UIDs by spamming BT customer email addresses - the victims wouldn't even need to enter their details into a form, just to open a link in the UID phishing email.

By using an automatic redirect to an https page, the spammer would get sent the recipents UID cookie and could therefore link their UID to their email address which would be encoded within the URL.

0
0

Not only in the USA.

BT have broken the law.

Phorm have broken the law.

NuLabour government is complicit in this lawbreaking activity but will shortly introduce legislation providing retrospective immunity for all parties and legal protection for any future implementations of Phorm type technology.

Well, it worked for George Bush, didn't it?

0
0
Thumb Down

https => directly identifiable ? Plus... revolving doors.

I don't understand much of this web stuff so plz excuse this question...

I vaguely recall mention of single-pixel gifs being used to track folks on websites. If that single-pixel gif was delivered by https on a page which itself wasn't https, does that mean that the user's "privacy" (not that they ever had much) is effectively completely destroyed without them knowing???? Just wondering cluelessly, if you have a clue stick, feel free to use it.

Have the revolving doors between BT HQ and Phorm HQ stopped spinning yet? Y'know, the one Stratis Scleparis used to get from being BT Retail Chief Techy (at the time of the denied trials) to being Phorm CTO as of a few months back?

http://www.phorm.com/about/exec_scleparis.php

0
0
Stop

hiding

so if they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear....

sorry this is NuUK, they must be guilty, after all a complaint has been made, don't they now have to prove they are innocent?

surely one of the millions of cameras must have recorded the meetings?

don't know why they don't just come out and say "you have no expectation or right to privacy" and be done with it

0
0
Happy

PR bunnies

"Phorm's PR agency Citigate Dewe Rogerson"

Time to have a pop at them, perhaps. Suggest that they might be aiding and abetting a criminal act and see how good a rabbit impression they manage...

0
0
Paris Hilton

This sounds so Fishey....

Since the government is clearly reluctant to give a honest response,its collusion with BT cannot be ruled out. Also with BT and Virgin being de-facto equipment providers to all UK ISPs one wonders if GHCQ and phorm are also in bed together?

Paris 'cause everyone wants to know who she gets in bed with!

0
0
Silver badge

Transparency?

The Government implementation of transparency appears to work as well as that of some web browsers.

0
0

EU and Lords

"As one who's previously been Eurosceptic, I find the EU's line to be somewhat re-assuring, as is the interest taken by our non-democratic Lords...."

when we where fighting the Viloint crime reduction bill the only suport we could find against the goverment banning gunshaped objects was in the lords all mps on the red and blue sides where parots for the party line and the yellows just did not care

0
0
Pirate

Condemned out of their own mouths.

>"Phorm's products are capable of being operated in this fashion" [... i.e., legally ... ] "on the following basis:

* The user profiling occurs with the knowledge and agreement of the customer."

Well, there we have it. Given that the trials were secret and the customers had absolutely no knowledge of them whatsoever, it's an open-and-shut case; they were not operated on that basis, hence they were not legal, QED.

Now it's just a matter of banging 'em up and throwing away the key...

0
0
Bronze badge

What worrys me

Is the first sentence of the update:- `The UK government's position on Phorm's technology reflects our common commitment to transparency and superior standards of online privacy.

Is it just me or are they saying they want superior standards of online privacy to be transparent?

It all sounds like masculine cow pooh to me.

Where's the Bull shit icon?

0
0
Coat

Que?!

Now I may be taking a leaf out of the Bill Hicks film review book but:

"Pile of Shit!"

Just because HM.gov is using a great big fan to keep the flies off doesn't mean we can't recognise fecal matter by other means.

Fabio Colasanti should refer to Paxman's book and ask them again. And again. And again. Until they answer the question (which we all know they won't but it should be fun to watch)

I hope that FOIA request has been phrased to preclude the "that is commercially sensitive information" response that has been used all too often with regards ID cards. Now that I think of it, THAT would be quite an interesting response in and of itself. Carry on, nothing to see here...

Mine's not personally identifiable so I have to check them all.

0
0
Stop

WTF

So basically they are still trying to cover BT's ass for them by making it appear legal when it was not the question is why are they covering BT liability in this case.

What the hell I go away for few and the whole place got all slicked up I hate it

0
0

Statement

Sir Humphrey has managed to include enough weasel words in that statement to populate an entire Zoo.

0
0
Black Helicopters

speechless

Total corrpution of this government. Nu Labour - a New low.

I`ve always avoided creating an account @ the reg to remain "Anon" coz we all know where this is going...

g0d help us all.

0
0
Pirate

time for a change of government

Considering how the our elected government have acted over the last 10 years I have to say I am not surprised in the slightest. Its all trust us we know what we are doing and time and time again they are proved wrong. Then its just a simple sorry and off to another gaff.

Well I for one am fed up. Gordon The Clown doesn't allow 'His People' to talk about new leaders and elections well its time we asked for a new government. Chris could you get a statement from David Cameron (Tories) and try and get this item on the political agenda. They are desperate for votes ask him for a comment and publish it with the promise of a link to his weblog. If he wants to get in touch with the young intelligent people here is his opportunity to do it.

How many more IT catastrophes do we have to endure before people wise up!!

I cant believe I am promoting the Tories a lifetime of Labour destroyed. But what choice do we have. Labour haven't a chance of winning the next election so we need to get a statement from the Tories now before they come to power and then just casually ignore our concerns.

Prepare for boarding the Blue express.............................

0
0
Anonymous Coward

If phorm is so good

If phorm is so good for consumers than I suspect they can leave it off and everyone will be clamouring to opt in.

0
0
Linux

White-out or wipe-out

I feel like I am a penguin walking through a spin storm. Not too sure if the next chapter will be a white-out or wipe-out.

Without copyright, what protection is still available for fledgeling e-businesses that are giving employment to so many thousands in the UK?

The internet is so full of scams, ready to catch the unwary. Just now it looks like the government is the next set of citizens to fall for all the money making schemes that float around. Looking back over the last 10 years or so, the scams are still the same: nothing new there. The surprise is that all that is needed is for the book to be given a new cover and there is a whole new generation of internet newbies to be caught in the scam web. Even though there are pages and pages hosted on the web warning the unwary that they could be caught just as easily as me/him/her/them/us.

And, just about every one of those scams has involved personal data being sold and used to make the scammers a profit.

Can anyone list just one get-rich-quick system which has collected data over the internet which has not been used as part of a money making scam?

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.