back to article Phorm director advises UK.gov broadband minister

A member of Phorm's board also works as a taxpayer-funded broker at the heart of UK internet policy, in the very department tasked this week with responding to European Commission demands to tighten privacy laws. Kip Meek defended his dual role today, insisting his job for the Digital Britain review was completely separate to …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Oh Really?

    "I can say with absolute certainty there has been no discussion about Phorm between Kip and anyone here in the department,"

    Now that is nothing short of a barefaced lie. Can this spokesperson really expect us to believe that it's never come up even as part of a watercooler chat? Absolute certainty my arse. Just because it hasn't come up in the minutes of any formal meetings it doesn't mean it's never been discussed. And if it's been discuseed then can they really say with any certainty that it hasn't informed any decisions? Well I'm sure they will *say* they are "absolutely certain" that it hasn't, but I don't suppose anybody will believe them.

    And I'm sure that the EC will be very interested in this possible conflict of interests.

    Hush, can you hear them adding a couple of zeroes to the fine?

    This government is so bent it makes Thatcher's crowd look like a convent.

  2. Steven
    Joke

    Ha ha...

    "Meek joined Phorm in December and was quickly granted 100,000 share options"

    What a sucker, a bag full of coconut hairs will be worth more in 6 months.

  3. Julian I-Do-Stuff

    WTF!

    I think that covers it.

  4. Codge
    Flame

    Amazon is a start...

    Now all we need is the other big players to do the same, (BBC, fleaBay, MS, Wikipedia,) etc and they might finally get the message and Phuck off.

    Burn, you bastards, BURN!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    BERR

    Is it just me or does BERR seem like an old chums club, who's members only interests are in lining their own pockets?

  6. Tawakalna
    Flame

    f*cking disgusting..

    jobs for the boys like everything else involved with this bl**dy Govt, the EU gravy train, and BT. Oh sorry not just jobs for the boys, that silly horse-faced tart Patricia Hewitt got a 50K non-executive directorship at BT for givingt hem the contract for the NHS spine (that doesn't work - just like her)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Conflict Of Interest

    "A member of Phorm's board also works as a taxpayer-funded broker at the heart of UK internet policy, in the very department tasked this week with responding to European Commission demands to tighten privacy laws."

    He has options/shares in Phorm and therefore has a vested interest to see its business model work - one area in which he is able by working on the Internet policy. This is a clear conflict of interest as he could propose a wider adoption of Phorm to cover the very legislation he is proposing.

  8. dervheid
    Pirate

    Just how much arrogance...

    can you pack into one company?

    or one individual

    No confict of interest?

    Do they think we all have zips up the back of our heads?

    Isn't it strange how BERR keep getting implicated in all this shite.

    And who happens to be 'in charge' of BERR

    Oh Yes!

    It's MANDY!

    What a surprise!

    NOT!

  9. Eponymous Cowherd
    Flame

    No conflict of interests?

    Utter bollocks!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Kip Meek

    "A member of Phorm's board also works as a taxpayer-funded broker at the heart of UK internet policy,"

    FOR FUCKS SAKE!

    I might be crazy here but aren't the government supposed to be protecting us from systems like Phorm. You know, the people they represent.

    Grrrr

  11. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Are we meant to believe...

    ...that Carter (as minister thingy) and Meek (in his taxpayer day job) have never once discussed Phorm in any way?

    Really?

  12. 7mark7

    Do we know ...

    ... if they all went to the same jolly old school together?

  13. Joe K

    Ugh

    I suddenly have a sickening feeling in the back of my throat, like something stinks to high heaven.

    To be honest though, i can't say this surprises me, and that it isn't the end of the corruption behind this whole horrid affair.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. Julian I-Do-Stuff
    Flame

    Hearings, Hearings

    How about US Senate style public hearings before people get such appointments? Scrutiny should be proactive - and retrospective reassurances are no substitute. No conflict of interest my arse. Can we FOI his emails, meeting minutes, etc. etc. etc.?

    Oh, and What The Fuck!?! - again (in hindsight it didn't quite do it for me the 1st time)

  16. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Eve's Apple .... Adam's Cherry. Always a Prime Profitable Target

    "In October Hendon wrote to BT: "You may know there is a bit of a battle going on about our unwillingness to release, under the Freedom of Information Act, correspondence between the European Commission and the government and I am instructed I cannot give you a copy of our response either."" ....... Hmmm, two publicly elected bodies acting like they have secrets which no one should know, and probably for individual greater advantage rather than the Public Good. It certainly sounds/appears right dodgy and is bound to be abused, such is the pernicious nature of man hiding/skulking in the dark.

    Surely everyone knows that once you log onto the Internet there is nowhere to run to hide secrets and all actions are automatically logged. Full stop. And therefore all of your secret desires and/or extra curricular interests are known and you can be targetted and tempted to satisfy them and yourself whilst at the same time generating income for those ISP who would Server your Needs with their Feeds/Models/Intelligently Designed Businesses catering to Latent Tendencies.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What...

    a fucking disgrace.

    I cant think of a clearer example of conflict of interest.

    Wankers.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Guess this explains

    BT's fairly gentle treatment by Ofcom. The government WANTS us to have Phorm. Presumably that's because Phorm will faciliate Jacqui's email inspection. Come on, let's hear it from the 'if you've nothing to hide' brigade!

  19. Jonathan

    Is anyone surprised anymore?

    Seriously, this is nothing new. UK.gov is corrupt through and through, it should come as no surprise that the government did nothing about the BT/Phorm trials precisely because BT/Phorm and the government are often the same person, and if they aren't the same person they worked together and are best buddies.

    EU should NOT fine UK.gov, since we have to pick up the fine. Rather, they should impose sanctions restricting trade and demand that the UK implement more anti corruption laws to prevent situations like this in addition to the increasing privacy requirements.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Would you believe it...

    ...Another government department infected by spyware.

    I know...coat...door.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Oh dear.

    "No conflict of interest"..

    I suspect this is not entirely true.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @dudeskinn

    "I might be crazy here but aren't the government supposed to be protecting us from systems like Phorm. You know, the people they represent."

    Don't be silly - represent us? LOL - a politician will only do something that LOOKS like that if it also includes lining his own greasy pockets. It's a pity that geneticists can't discover a gene for "politicianness" - we could then drown the greedy, lying bastards as soon as they're born....

    Paris, because there's no chance she'd have such a gene - now when the hell are the Reg going to include that V for Vendetta icon?

  23. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @BERR

    Very much so.

    <grammar pedant> and it's whose members', not who's members </grammar pedant>

    I am also fully aware that under the rules governing the entire internet, this post also contains a grammatical or spelling error.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Do BERR KNOW who talks to who, though?

    "I can say with absolute certainty there has been no discussion about Phorm between Kip and anyone here in the department," a spokeswoman said.

    It's great to see that level of confidence about who did what at BERR. Because whenever BERR are asked about details of meetings and contacts with Phorm, via FOI requests, they say they can't find out, or that no minutes were taken. Yet they absolutely KNOW that Meek hasn't talked to anyone at BERR about Phorm? Pull the other one. That's the answer that they NEED to give, but there's no reason to believe it's actually true.

    Here?

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/internet_privacy_government_warn

    and here

    https://www.dephormation.org.uk/index.php?page=40 - the BERR FOI tourist trail

    If you can make sense of that contradictory mess of pottage then you ought to be in government. It's a dogs breakfast, and shows every sign of someone covering their trail as fast as possible.

  25. Alexander Hanff
    Thumb Up

    excellent investigative journalism

    Chris, this was an exceptional piece, thanks.

    You might also want to look into the situation regarding the recording of minutes in meetings between the public sector and commercial agents which I have highlighted here:

    https://nodpi.org/2009/04/15/kip-meek-in-the-spotlight/

    How can the public sector be held accountable if they keep no records? They are keen to keep records of everything we do but not so keen to have the same rules applied to them.

    Alexander Hanff

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    the "if you've nothing to hide" brigade

    They hopefully don't exist any more. You no longer have to be old enough to remember Blair Peach, or even JCdM, just Ian Tomlinson, and the 114 arrested in Notts for conspiracy to have untrendy haircuts or whatever they were nicked for. Not to mention the 12 "terrorists" arrested in the north west not long ago who will likely be freed without charge in due course. Shame none of the City banksters were ever arrested for conspiracy to award themselves infeasibly large bonuses, the US seem to be ahead of us on that one, but at least the banksters have done more to Stop The City than the anarchists ever did :)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re BERR

    The BERR is rotten. They are allowing products into the UK market that do not conform to Electromagnetic Compatibility regulation and law effectively because it would "constitute a barrier to trade" to legislate against them because it's their old pal Bastard Telecom who are making the cash on the deal.

    I suppose a relaxation of safety requirements will be next if big business can make a pile out of it.

  28. blackworx
    Thumb Down

    Bent as a nine bob note

    That is all

  29. MinionZero
    Stop

    The utterly morally corrupt ruling elite have gone far enough. No more...

    The insidious connections between Phorm and the political power brokers justs keeps getting worse. They are creating a police state for their own financial gain and in the process mercilessly exploiting us all.

    Phorm already has a once high up ex-MP as director (who also has political friends). This latest news shows just how badly Phorm wants to work with politicians for its own gain. Which means what does the politicians get in return. Its no wonder then that the government doesn't want to stop Phorm.

    The depth of corruption of this government is getting beyond shocking. Their plans to build a police state cannot be allowed. Its actually getting frighting just how badly they aim to destroy old UK values for their own financial gain. The UK isn't suppose to be a police state with such continuous, deep and widespread monitoring of everyone, yet we are leading the world in building a 21st century police state.

    Everyone (not just technical people on TheReg etc..) needs to be woken up to the growing danger of this system, let alone how bad that danger is so closely tied in with what politicians want. Everything we say online can be profiled, (includes everything political we find of interest to read). Thats enough to profile what political interests and views everyone has. The central reason why centuries ago votes were made in secret, was to prevent the ones in power, from seeking to influence the voters. Yet the relentless power seekers are forever seeking to game the system to gain ever more information on peoples opinions.

    All politicians are relentless power seekers regardless of party. That is why they go into politics as they ultimately want to be in power over others. The Internet gives a huge amount of power to monitor people's lives and the relentless power seekers cannot resist mercilessly exploiting it for their own gain. This has gone too far already. Everyone needs to be told about this growing danger. Not just technical people here, everyone in the country needs to see what Phorm means. The only way to make changes is for enough people to stand together. If millions of people stand together on this one point, then the government has to give in and back down. Otherwise this abuse of power is going to get ever worse.

    (If you still can't see there is any problem or danger, then read this, and the comments that follow it)... http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=989785&cid=25306989

    We need to stop discussing what needs to be done and simply march in force on Parliament. (Pick a Saturday and organize a month in advance, tell everyone, so many can turn up).

    I've had enough of this corruption. The relentless NuLabour power seekers and their morally corrupt rich friends in business have gone far enough. They need to be reined in. The news about Phorm keeps getting ever more shocking. This has gone far enough. Phorm and NuLabour's plans need to be stopped.

  30. IndianaJ

    Nice article

    Thanks for giving us the lowdown on what appears to be some very shady people. Shirley they won't get away with it?

  31. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    typical el Reg fail

    Come on you guys. Why do you have to keep coming up with these purely "emotive" stories about Phorm? Couldn't you write at least ONE balanced article at least?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    BT sucks

    Sack this fool!

    And shut down Phorm too.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Come on EU !

    Give it to those nose in the trough pigs at UK Gov

  34. SynnerCal

    Poor reporting?

    There's an error in this article - it says

    "Kip Meek defended his dual role today, insisting his job for the Digital Britain review was completely separate to any dispute between the UK government and Brussels."

    when in fact what it should say is:

    "Kip Meek defended his dual role today, insisting his job for the Digital Britain review was completely separate to any dispute between Phorm (and their bitch the UK government) and everyone else."

    If this isn't a bloody crystal clear example of conflict of interest I really don't know what is. I can't quite decide if BERR is just completely incompetent, lacking in common sense, or more corrupt than Caligula's court. I thought Mandy was supposed to be pretty bright, in which case it isn't ignorance, it's deliberate.

    It's stuff like this that really makes the EU look appealing, but then again aren't most politicians the same... :(

  35. Kevin Reader
    Flame

    A few thoughts...

    10/10 for featuring Sir Humphrey although I think even he would have been shocked at how blatant they have been. Politicians and Cronies, Trough, Nose, In - rearrange into a well know phrase.

    Pat Hewitt - as you may all recall - was one the leading lights between that remarkable piece of pseudo legislation IR35. The other being "Red" Dawn. So its clearly "Politics of Envy" for most and "Politics of Trough" for cronies.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Corruption

    and they know it, they'll try to spin it, they'll deny it, but it's plain and simple corruption at the heart of Government.

  37. Paul Barnfather
    Stop

    100,000 shares??

    Blimey, isn't that a cool £500k right now? And they claim there's no conflict of interest!!

    I'd say Kip Meek has absolutely no place whatsoever advising anyone on Digital Britain.

    Isn't there some kind of law against this behaviour, or are we just seeing a small glimpse of what they're all up to?

    Sod the conspiracy theories about Jackboot Jacqui, this lot are just trying to line their own pockets. Greed, pure and simple.

  38. Gary

    Scumbags

    So, one bunch of scumbags is hiring anotherr scumbag. Given that this load of Nu Labur bastards would not know the truth even if it were to be anally inserted, is anyione surprised? Never thought that I would support any of those European tossers. Lets see if thety can get this right. Oh dear, there they are, a squadron of pin pigs in perfect formation--------- Gary

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disgusting

    Coming from a government that has made licking business arse the top of it's priority list, the cosy little relationships mentioned are hardly surprising. You would think 'very clever' people were in really short supply, since the uk.gov only seems to have had a pool of a dozen or so to hand round between various regulatory, private sector and advisory jobs. That labour think this is easily defensible speaks volumes about how corrupt, arrogant and contemptuous the party of Keir Hardie has become since being hijacked by the olive oil drizzling brigade.

    May I be the first (Oh I wish) to give the finger to our new olive oil drizzling corporate overlords.

    PS - can we have a 'Keir Hardie spinning in his grave' icon please?

  40. Richard
    Boffin

    Fine...

    It's not a conflict of interest, it's a conflict of influence.

    Don't for one second tell me that being on the official contact list within a department or elsewhere in the corridors of power doesn't get you something. Wouldn't this be why one T. Blair Esquire gets such a hefty retainer from Merrill Lynch?

    From the same school of logic that brought you "it's perfectly within the rules". Yes it is - but the rules are wrong, as well as the behaviour.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So it's true....

    The Meek really do inherit the earth.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Expertise with a pinch of salt?

    There were times when one could serve as an advisor and equally during those times it was a matter of personal integrity for one to declare an interest and absent oneself from a meeting.

    Maybe all that (personal integrity I mean) has died a dishonorable death?

  43. Richard Porter
    Gates Horns

    Meek?

    Jolly good chap, what. Salt of the Earth. Wouldn't have anyone else! Now where's my G & T?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @A/C Wednesday 15th April 2009 14:50 GMT

    I think you'll find the whole of UK Govt is corrupt and just interested in lining their own pockets.

    And by that I don't just mean the currently sitting government, I mean all of 'em!

    Lyin' b*stards the lot of 'em.

  45. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Hmmm

    I dimly remember being taught at school that a civilisation is more likely to collapse from internal corruption than from any external influence.

    Do they teach history anymore?

    I wonder who will take the place of Nero. All of them seem pretty good at the fiddle.

  46. Kevin Reader
    Paris Hilton

    @Anonymous Coward = 15th April 2009 18:45 GMT

    Actually in the absence of a spinning Keir Hardie you should have used the el Reg standby Miss Hilton.

    1. She has never had an inappropriate liaison which is not on the public record.

    2. Her morals are unimpeachable compared to any modern politician.

    3. She has much better and savoury uses for olive oil - I like to think.

    Paris for PM I say. After all she did respond very well to her US Presidential mention.

  47. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Joke

    Meek the Greek?

    Well, he is working like a trojan inside govt.

  48. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    Sure!

    Duh...we beiieve you! I believe that the government wouldn't be interested in the greatest threat to interent liberties and greatest opportunity to get a back door connection for their communication database, just slapped on a plate ready for the taking!

    The government is all! The government cares! Comrade Priminister Brown is our father! He shares his love and care for all his slav....comrades!

    You fools will all see Comrade Kurt cares!

  49. michael

    @kindaian

    I relay hate to do this but in the intrest of fairness here goes

    phorm DOSE NOT alter your pages in any way they just harvest the information flowing from you to your viewers for profiling information and pass that onto there partners

  50. Alex
    Thumb Down

    cash for prying

    oh look, sleaze has just 2.0!!

    a nice easy angle for the tabloids then, "phaid to spy on you"

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