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back to article EU sues UK.gov over Phorm trials

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 …

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Title!

YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is all.

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WTF?

Taxpayer

So the taxpayer coughs up a load more money for the failings of some jumped up CEO from the city..... sounds familiar.

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Re: Taxpayer

It'll be the taxpayer *initially*, but there is always the option of the real villains being prosecuted in a UK court and fined. We'd get the money back, then.

Last I looked, it was the Home Office that was dragging its feet on this one, and *they* are supposedly overseen by the Home Secretary, who *ought* to be accountable to the electorate.

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Punish the victims instead of those responsible

"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."

The "it" that faces the fines being the unfortunate taxpayers who will ultimately pay the fines and who are also the victims of the privacy violations concerned. None of those responsible will see any dent in their salaries, pensions or golden handshakes. Why not fine the former ministers and officials responsible for introducing RIPA in the first place and then fine those currently responsible if they fail to remove the offending legislation in short order?

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Anonymous Coward

@JG

"Why not fine the former ministers and officials responsible for introducing RIPA in the first place and then fine those currently responsible if they fail to remove the offending legislation in short order?"

Because you'll get more money out of a government than you will from its ministers and any minister who loses millions of pounds to Brussels will get a very uneasy ride from the British (=Australian) press.

A press which is strangely silent on the matter as of this morning.

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FAIL

Costs

What is sad about the whole affair is that it is we the public who will pay for it.

Just think about how many hospital beds could be funded if the UK is fined?

I hope the directors of Phorm sleep well at night

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Pint

Yeah ...

Is that how it works? If we get fined we take the money off hospitals to pay the fines?

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Anonymous Coward

facetious?

"Is that how it works? If we get fined we take the money off hospitals to pay the fines?"

The fine payments have to come from somewhere now don't they? The money doesn't just magically appear from nowhere.

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Stop

You're absolutely right...

"The fine payments have to come from somewhere now don't they? The money doesn't just magically appear from nowhere."

We have these things called the Royal Mint, and 'quantitative easing'. But yes, apart from that hole, your argument is pretty much spot-on.

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Pint

Ah ...

But nobody said the money magically appears from nowhere. I asked whether we take it off hospitals.

Is that how it works?

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Eh?

"The City of London police dropped their investigation of the Phorm trial, claiming BT had reasonable grounds to believe it had customers' consent"

How do they work that out, then? Did BT threaten to cut off their phone lines if they didn't drop the case?

I hope HMG will pass on any euro-fines to BT, otherwise we will all end up paying for Mr Ertegrul's little adventure.

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Who Should Pay?

It seems grossly unfair that the current Government should have to pay for the inadequacies of the previous Government, but them's the rules, I guess.

Maybe they can find a way to send the bill onto the Labour Party and bankrupt them into oblivion once and for all.

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+4 Insightful

Yeah - because it all would have been so much different under a $OTHER government...

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@Woodgar

Last time I checked the concept of democracy a government represented a country not a political party.

Not to mention that we apply sanctions against Cuba, North Korea or Iran that impact the people of those countries not their governments, even if in some cases those governments are not even properly elected.

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Sanctions - goose/gander

People have no problems with sanctions affecting the people of Cuba, North Korea or Iran but they don't like it when they're subject to similar sanctions.

Funny that. Where I come from, that's called hypocrisy.

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@Andy S

The purpose of sanctions is to force a regime change - we've already done that bit, of sorts so perhaps we should get credit for that and the fact there's so much shit to sort out we just hadn't gotten around to that bit yet.

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Unhappy

Hollow victory

Unless the fines are levied on those directly responsible, it's the UK tax-payer that will pay. And foot the bill for the legal cost of defending the indefensible.

BT and Phorm must think it's Christmas.

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WOOT!!!

Bout time someone stuck the boot into BT, they seem to think they are able to get away with anything because they are a "british" company, and the gov aren't helping by letting them get away with it.

Although it is annoying the hell out of me that I am siding with brussels....

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We did tell them

At last! Why has it taken the EU to wake the UK govt. up to the useless bundle of nonsense that it calls privacy laws? Thank you EU. And no thanks at all UK government who have been a disgrace - whatever party is in power.

Apart from the fact that the taxpayer will be picking up the tab, I hope they get hammered. No doubt this will run and run and the timescale will be in years.

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Why has it taken the EU to wake the UK govt?

Because hardly any EU comissioners are up for BT directorships when they retire of course!

Of course our politicans dont want tougher privacy laws. Cos if that happened, when they become directors in a few years time, they may get hit with them!

Heck look at the ACS: Law debacle. There facing a *maximum* fine of £500,000 quid for loosing data including credit card data!, The largest fine ever meeted out was 2.3M to Zurich!, and thats after months of investigation!

To a company like BT, thats a laugh.

If they were forced to have to take Privacy *seriously* it would cost them *millions*

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Why should tax payers pay the fine?

BT should pay any fine, I'd suggest Phorm pay as well but I suspect they have no money.

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Why?

Because the UK tax payers chose to be represented by a bunch of tossers. UK government = UK

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Anonymous Coward

Opportunity To Tell EU To Go Spin?

We can but hope.

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@(UKIP) AC

You been downvoted 10 times already! Good show! Now you need to make up your mind and decide if the world is full of idiots or the idiot is you.

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I agree!

How dare those bastards attempt to protect us from illegal wiretaps by bringing a corrupt government to task? That's OUR corrupt government, damn it! Johnny Foreigner shouldn't put his do-gooding nose where it's not wanted.

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Pint

@AC

Go ahead and leave the EU. If you do, I hope they let Canada join. By the gods, that would be so unbelievably excellent. I am sorry you don’t hold the same values as I do, but I honestly believe that membership in the EU is the single best thing that can happen to any country. The EU isn’t perfect…but it’s the best we have developed so far. I would be deeply proud to have my nation join. Hell, I’d be proud to be able to get citizenship in a country member country.

The EU has done more to protect the rights of ordinary citizens than any other political organisation or government in human history. In the modern world, it may well be the only government willing to actually take such stands. (Especially against large corporations; something no other government anywhere will stand up to.) I can understand that there are other people who do not believe as I do. Fair enough. I can’t share your sentiments, but I would die to protect your right to those beliefs.

In the mean time, I would be glad to exchange my citizenship for yours; membership in the EU is to me far more preferable than membership in the impending American hegemony.

Pint, because we should all just relax a little and not stress over things we cannot control.

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Pint

Ironically...

I am going the other way, albeit not because I think the EU is a bad thing. Perhaps we can persuade the respective governments to do a swap? ;¬)

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Nothing changes

this present gov are as bad as the last over privacy and rights. Still the same old responses from the Cabinet Office over 'vexatious' foi requests. So I'm afraid it's up to the EU to nail the sods to the wall why we pay for it. It's all the comfort we will get.

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Millions of pounds a day in return for nothing?

So, how would we tell the difference?

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Hurrah!

About time!

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Message to the European Commission

Thanks!

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Anonymous Coward

Message to UKIP

No Thanks

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Anonymous Coward

Ridiculous

So let me get this straight; a private company tries to invade MY privacy and rights, is forced to retreat by a public backlash because the regulator fails to intervene, and now the EU wants to fine the UK Government for millions of OUR tax money ?

How does that work? Who is actually protecting the citizen here?

(As the saying goes) we need to nuke the Eurocrats in Brussels from orbit. It's the only way to be sure...

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Nuke?

Except the Eurocrats in this case are doing nothing wrong - they are actually protecting us.

Just a shame we will be paying them from our own pockets (again).

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The "Eurocrats" are protecting you

This is the idea (please note that it is a general idea I do not imply that the current government is better than the previous or viceversa)

- YOU vote for a government that doesn't care for the law

- EU Commission fines YOUR country because it does not follow the law

- YOU don't like being fined so next time YOU vote for a different government that DOES care about the law

Unfortunately narrowminded people have problems dealing with logical thinking so I guess I am wasting my time here....

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Re: Ridiculous

How else are they going to pay for the Greek bailout? Europe is essentially a socialist setup and, despite the recession, it seems we still have more than our fair share of wealth. They only want to redistribute it a bit... </cynic>

The chances of Ertugrul and his co-conspirators getting what they deserve because of this is vanishingly small. This is not a result, people.

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OK, right, so you're saying that.....

....I need to vote for a government that consists of politicians who have respect for the laws they enact?

Where do I find one of those?

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it is a result

The EU is not the same as the Eurozone. It's the countries that have the Euro who will be bailing out Greece and the other PIIGS members, not the EU.

And yes, the news *is* a result. A hefty fine will go some way towards making the Home Office and Justice Ministries pay attention to upholding the laws they are responsible for. They let this Phorm evil go on even after it was clear it violated UK and EU law. And even now they're still resisting.

The only bummer is that BT and Phorm - may they both go bust and rot in hell forever - are not getting fined.

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Coat

No

If they were protecting US they'd fine the individuals who failed :

BT

The government minister(s) who failed to apply EU law

The civil servents who failed to advise their ministers

After all we don't all get fined if one motorist speeds , do we ?

We need to ensure fines & court sanctions always end up being applied to natural people, not companies or other legal entities

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Grenade

Fines are all well and good...

... when they hit the individual concerned. They ought to condemn those guilty to jail time (at the expense of the guilty parties) - no reason for taxpayers or customers to pay for the illegal activity.

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FAIL

Yeah but

The trial isn't about BT/Phorm doing testing. Its about there being no UK law to stop them. The law is written and voted on by parliament. The fact there is no UK law is illegal under European law, so the EU is taking UK.gov to court. Even though what BT have done with the trials of Phorm is morally wrong they have broken no law (allegedly), so they aren't on trial or liable for any fine.

Once again our elected representatives have let us down by:

1, Getting the thing wrong in the first place

2, Not fixing it over a year ago when the EU first threatened to take them to court over there being no law.

If they had then it would be BT/Phorm in the dock now, not UK.gov.

Shiznit!

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Anonymous Coward

Breach of statutory duty

What Phorm and BT did is still illegal under both EU and UK law, as EU legislation has direct effect in the UK. This direct effect is not dependent on the UK government making local regulations, nor is it dependent on the UK government correctly transposing EU law. In principle an aggrieved individual could take BT and Phorm to the High Court for damages (and/or an injunction, if they had not already stopped the interception).

The problem is the usual one: individuals cannot afford access to justice in this country. It would cost in excess of £50,000 to get the remedy the individual was entitled to. Moreover, they would risk losing their house if their application failed (perhaps on a technicality), as they would potentially be liable for the legal costs racked up by the other side on their QCs, junior barristers and teams of solicitors.

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I fixed it for you

"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."

Should read:

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

Obviously the bribes and back-hander BT handed out to the unelected and secretive EU-wonks wasn't enough. UK MPs must be much, much cheaper to buy. Hmm....haven't there been news stories about that fairly recerntly?

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On one hand good, on the other hand

Its us lot that will pay the fine :(

BT and Phorm should be the targets, or the people responsible for the non compliance, after all its just penalising the whole cuntry and they can carry on with inpunity knowing we'll be paying the fine.

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Ha ha ha ha

Please take note: It was the last lot of fuckwits you need to be hanging out to dry

Go Viviane

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FAIL

Millions of pounds per day...

Dear UK Taxpayer,

Give us all ya loot, there's a good fella/gal.

The UK Govt

It's win/lose really.

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AT LAST

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

so where does this leave TT with it's stalk stalk service which they trialed without permission and intercepted customers browsing to strip the FULL URL to give to a third party so they could look at the page?

seems the EU need to look at both at the same time to save us tax payers some cash and knock these spy systems on the head once and for all

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Happy

@Pirate Peter

"so where does this leave TT with it's stalk stalk service which they trialed without permission and intercepted customers browsing to strip the FULL URL to give to a third party so they could look at the page?"

Where indeed?

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FAIL

Brilliant, except......

Will BT and Phorm be liable for this fine or will it be the taxpayer. Methinks its gonna be the taxpayer. Big fat triple fail.

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