back to article Phorm failed to mention 'illegal' trials at Home Office meeting in 2007

The Home Office held a private meeting with Phorm in August last year, but BT's interception and profiling partner did not disclose that it had completed an allegedly illegal trial of its technology on tens of thousands of unwitting broadband subscribers just weeks earlier. Senior civil servant Andrew Knight revealed the …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Gotta love our goverment

    Everything seems to be "sorry, we can't provide/do not have that information" if it might be slightly embarrasing/frowned upon, yet when it shows them in a possitive light they can't pump detailed information out quick enough. Am i the only that see's this?

    This goverment is a joke, by meeting with these phorm bozo's it proves that. They were probably making a deal that all data intercepted was passed onto the gov, in return for taxpayers cash.

    As for their press office, the goverment is supposedly run "by the people, for the people", therefore as a citizen, you should be able to contact any member of a goverment department directly and ask questions, after all they "work for us".

    /inchoherent rant

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would suggest that....

    all BT users possibly effected by the illegal monitoring make a Data Subject Access request to BT and ask them to advise to whom they have made disclosures of data.

  3. Dangermouse

    I can only...

    ...hold my head in my hands and weep copiously over this whole underhanded, disgusting, slimey, shitty, unjust debarcle.

    Still, lets give K*nt the benefit of the doubt, eh? Secret trials on tens of thousands of BT users is an easy thing to forget about. Happens to me all the time.

    Wankers.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    Re: Bootnote

    Democracy in action...

    Doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy!!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Cancelling with BT

    Any way to cancel with BT and not get stitched up with their termination fee? After everything they have done (including trying to charge me £120 to have a BT line installed into my house, when we already had one, then the £40 of phonecalls to reconnect after they failed to process a payment on time) I don't really want to use them again, nor pay them anything more...

    Anyone had success in cancelling within their contract due to the Phorm trials?

  6. Richie M
    Stop

    Smell?

    I smell something....smells like a cover-up to me.

    /me dons tinfoil hat

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    We need a new icon

    It should say "It is a good day to bury bad news" to mark comments on HMG PR behaviour (and other keen followers of good PR practices).

    Nothing personal, it is just the way IT IS. The government that is.

    Me coat.

  8. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Flame

    re:HO Reponse to enquiry

    "We asked if it was Home office policy to threaten journalists with excommunication if they try talking to senior civil servants. "No," she said. "It's just the way it is."

    to paraphrase..

    "yeah but no but yeah but like, it wasn't me that dunnit why are you bovvering me?"

    or even

    "No. But yes."

    Useless sacks of elephant sputem the lot of them. First up against the wall if I have my way.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Todays government! Todays BT!

    At the end of the day Gordon Brown isn't prime minister by election he has failed to keep his promise to an early election. As the months move on he jumps from one unspeakable evil to another now he just comes over as paranoid. The whole sleepwalking into surveillance society is more like brown bull charge without looking...

    Gordon resign you are a shambles for PM, ICO staff resign you failed the people you are supposed to protect.

    BT AGM should have an added resolution of no confidence in the Management for completing secret trials with a spyware company.

    I think there should be a big no confidence in them all.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    In the interests of openness...

    Who was the press officer? We want names damnit!

    Paris, because she believes in true transparency.

  11. Sam

    Name her

    No really Chris, name her..we pay her wages, she is accountable to us.

    If you won't, then email me her name, I have some awkward questions for her (as she is accountable to me and the rest of joe public),and I have an increasing number of government contacts who are starting to realise how bad this is.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've just had a meeting with the home office.

    I spoke to Samantha on reception and enquired about thier opening times.

    and before you ask the meeting was requested by ourselves of our own back!

    are we not great?

    I second that motion. Wankers.

  13. Neil Greatorex
    Coat

    Home Office Press Office

    "We asked if it was Home office policy to threaten journalists with excommunication if they try talking to senior civil servants. "No," she said. "It's just the way it is.""

    So, she's saying it's not policy, but it is.

    Huh?

    If one is a civilian, surely a civil servant should serve one?

  14. dervheid
    Stop

    And they wonder why...

    we're paranoid?

    It all smacks of the mother and father of cover ups. It may be the case that Phorm 'forgot' to mention the trials at the meeting in order to provide a line of "plausable deniability" at the Home Office. Possibly.

    Or possibly not.

  15. Quirkafleeg
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Gotta love our goverment

    Ah, but which people do they mean?

  16. Steve

    Press Officer

    "We asked if it was Home office policy to threaten journalists with excommunication if they try talking to senior civil servants. "No," she said. "It's just the way it is.""

    So, presumably you'll now be contacting her office to ask for a statement about why civil service press officers feel that they have the right to ignore Home Office policy and implement their own policies on threatening journalists.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly surprising

    Ooops, rather forgot to mention we've worked with BT and broken the law. Sorry, that was rather absent minded of us...

    Was it b*ll*cks!

    Did the specimen claiming to be a "press officer" from the Home Office give his or her name? In the interests of open government we should be alerted to the identity of this specimen who clearly lacks any kind of decent level of manners and courtesy.

  18. Joe

    Get it on Watchdog!

    I know it's trash TV, but it's the only way the proletariat will find out about it...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Abracadabra

    It's quite hilarious(if it wasn't true), they spy, lie and deceive all the way until BT go to the general public...

    Ta Da, look at this amazing fresh new fantastic service we are offerring with our cleaner than clean, wonderful partner Phorm.

    I think someone at BT has been watching too much Harry Potter.

    Paris, because BT know they can dazzle her with their magic.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    So why *did* the Home Office speak to Phorm?

    I mean, is it common for a company that does nothing to nobody, and certainly not anything that is illegal or could be interpreted to be so, in fact, doesn't do much at all, to speak to the Home Office? I mean, I lived in the UK for 12 years and was never once invited to speak to the Home Office, and I too have done nothing to nob.. you get the idea.

    Mine's the one with the empty diary in the pocket...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Almost there ...

    "The Home Office refused to disclose further details of who was present at the August 2007 meeting with Phorm, how it was arranged, or what was discussed, saying that the information remained the subject of an ongoing FOI inquiry."

    Keep pushing and they will finally admit that they can't discuss it on grounds of "National Security".

    Perhaps this was the meeting where phorm demonstrated how easy it would be to have a 'security' interest channel. Ongoing, mass screening of British broadband use and it won't cost you a penny.

    What else? I used to think it was just corruption.

  22. Dam

    TITLE !!

    "phails", not "fails" !

    Fix it already ;)

  23. Adam Foxton

    @Watchdog Joe

    That's not a bad idea. It's been on the BBC News so it's not entirely new (hence not entirely scary), and they've got a trusted source to refer to (rather than just el reg who most of the UK haven't heard of and hence is scary) and will be shown to vast swarthes of the sorts of people who will phone up and complain about just this sort of thing.

    They've even got the press officer's less than democratic response.

    Actually why not spread this out so that it's just a whole Watchdog episode on The Government and its godawful policies?

  24. Doc Dish
    Joke

    In related news

    Pope revealed to be member of Church of Rome, Luxembourg calculated to not be amongst the larger European countries and Bears defecate in a woodland setting.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Share Tip

    Didn't I see Phorm being a speculative share tip in the Mail on Sunday this week? Do they something we don't?

    Paris - she can share my tips any time (ooh er)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wait a minute

    What the fuck is going on here?

    Being frugal with the truth when applying for permanent residency in the UK = Deportation

    Deliberately withholding relevant information from the Home Office = Carry on - you might get away with it

    And if, even in the light of this new revelation, nothing is done to punish BT/Phorm for breaking the law by carrying out their 2006/7 interception trials - they fucking have!

    All the clowns involved should immediately be held for 42 days pending further enquiries

    Apart from Emma Sanderson – trial by ordeal – with a red hot poker!

    K*nt Spunkbubble as the ringleader – Deportation is far too good for him

    Hung Drawn and Quartered live on You Tube!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Almost there ...

    As a post-script

    Of course, in nulabour speak they can assure the public that the government does not routinely monitor all internet use.

    They just leave it to their partners. It's the first PPP involving GCHQ.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    another day another nail

    What is the point.

    The police won't procsecute, Jacquie smith won't prosecute, ICO won't because we are all too thick.

    I simply wait for the freedom of information to tighten a little further so we won't even get this information.

    Already backhanders are being moved, people being talked to...

    I like the boot note. Shows what a nest of vipers they are, you can only ask questions if you go through the censoring department.

    Nice.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Conspiracy?

    Is the Home Office secretly behind Phorm in this?

    Perhaps Bad Boy Brown has suggested using Phorm to distribute confidential data to the masses to replace the need to leave dossiers on trains or confidential data on password protected (stolen or liberated) laptops?

  30. Eponymous Cowherd

    RE:So why *did* the Home Office speak to Phorm?

    You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

    Could it be anything to do with the fact that the Phorm system is just as capable of categorising interest in bomb-making, jihad, Al-Queda, etc as it is in categorising interest in televisions, cars, holidays, etc?

  31. Graham
    Stop

    Zeitgeist

    Call me a paraniod conspiracy theorist but it is becoming much clearer as things progress...

    What with our fundamental rights being tossed away flippantly, faceless companies treating our personal data like tissue paper and a mindless government with little or no connection to modern day life. It appears that we as a people are heading into a dark era ahead.

    Its already fact that our day to day lives in the UK are monitored through thousands of CCTV cameras, your personal details are shared between vast databases (and lost) and you can be "tagged" as "different" and monitored without your knowledge.

    Its this kind of intrusion into our lives which, if gone unchallenged, will end up with each of us living in ignorant bliss while all our rights as people are whittered away and barted to the highest bidder.

    I think Phorm should give up with what little fake PR status they have left and go crawl under the rock they came from. As for BT they should be for the high jump aswell, but what with Ofcom being as limp wristed as it is, I cant see it happening to be honest.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    My jaw is on the floor

    Are we all part of some spectacular "f5ck you" competition to see which entity can demonstrate the most contempt for the human beings they are forced to interact with?

    We know what Phorm think of us: mere walking bags of Kent's money.

    I thought BT might have seen me as a customer. Oh well, clearly wrong there.

    I had _hoped_ the Civil Service was there to, you know, serve civilians.*

    * Stupid me. Someone pointed out that the clue is in the name. Government departments are usually named according to the opposite of what they do: "Department of Health" = for sick people, "Department for Employment" = for people who don't work, etc. I think I see a pattern here.

  33. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Integrity?

    We've heard of it.

    Now, where did I hear that?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No?

    You should be true Europeans and keep asking until they say yes!

    (One disgruntled Irishman...)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    time for

    a new series of yes minister - phorm phucker the new minister for technology

  36. Mike Richards

    Home Office speak

    "The Home Office refused to disclose further details of who was present at the August 2007 meeting with Phorm, how it was arranged, or what was discussed, saying that the information remained the subject of an ongoing FOI inquiry."

    At the end of the FOI inquiry the information will not be released because it will be 'commercially confidential', when the appeal is granted, the discussions will be censored on the grounds of national security.

    And I'm with the others above. You should name the spokesdroid.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Transparency

    Here's a nice juicy list of names and numbers...

    http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/

    Any chance we can get a hint on who our loveable civil 'servant' may well be?

  38. Wokstation
    Gates Halo

    Name and shame

    I agree that "servant" (since when do servants get to speak to their masters in such a manner? Such impertinence! Someone needs to see the Head Housekeeper for some discipline!) needs to be named and shamed.

    Perhaps we could all request an interview?

    Re: Phorm/BT not getting prosecuted, in a political climate where no-one is at fault for a desktop PC full of misplaced Restricted information getting stolen, is it suprising that no-one's investigating something so blatantly illegal?

    Gates: It's how this makes him look in comparison...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Home Office = Bunch of arrogant B@5t4ds (my personal oppinion!)

    It just shows what sort of attitude these £$&$%^£$% have!

    It is just mind blowing to find that they want to take the right away to talk to senior civil servants!

    are they something better than us? after all, I amongst many others are paying their wages!

    how about if we stop paying our taxes? I am being rude to the person(s) paying my wages, I will get fired!!!

    It would be a pleasure to get the name of this (alleged) lady and ask her, if she would do the same if she were in a private firm!

    And Lady, if you read this: People like you are the ones who make people loose trust and faith in the government (of the little that is still left!)

    Your arrogance reminds me of Grace Mugabe (Robert G. Mugabes Wife), whom I have met several years back and found her to be the most arrogant person I have ever come across (and that is very many!!!) but from what I understand her, you seem to come pretty close!!!

  40. Mike Morris
    Alert

    Phorm Strategy Meeting...

    Been to meetings like this one as I'm sure many of you have:

    Phorm exec with a wee bit of integrity: "How can we test this stuff? We'll need gobs of permissions & disclosures. It will take time & cause problems."

    Typical Phorm exec: "Ask for permission or ask for forgiveness? Go with the forgiveness angle so we can move forward now and clean up the mess later or not at all."

    And so it goes. No ethics. No conscience. All business and bean counting.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  41. Simon Day

    reg reader campaign time?

    That civil servant "works for us" right?

    Lets have his mailing address, direct line and email - I'm sure there are a few reg reader, who as uk tax payers would like to have a word with this chap....

    And if he turns it down... well I'll just have to route such communications via my local MP - could get very messy for him if every MP in the country is being hassled by voters because he won't talk to the rest of us directly...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    BT, The Home office, meet up with a company that writes Malware

    OK let me get my head around this.

    Phorm aka 121Media who wrote rootkits to deliver some of their spyware products that were hidden in application downloads, are in cahoots with the Government and they intercept all our HTTP data to serve illegal adverts when we browse on the internet. I find this difficult to believe but on checking it is now my opinion that this is true!

    I spent hours fixing PC's of freinds geting rid of their crap. (PeopleOnPage

    Alias:ContextPlus). And of course the nasty Apropos rootkit written by their development team (I think by programmers in Russia).

    Bl**dy hell where is our National security??

    f***k me!!! This is unbelievable but it's actually true!!

    What does that say about our Government and BT? They should have run a mile!

  43. David Pollard

    BT may have a defence - strong mitigation at least

    Though I would not wish to gainsay Nicholas Bohm, whose analysis appears to be excellent, BT may be in the clear.

    It has already been said that the trials needed to be kept secret in order properly to test that use of the surveillance technology was imperceptible to users. Also the Home Office had apparently made presentations to communications companies encouraging them to retain data under the Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act.

    BT could presumably maintain that they were 'only doing their bit', as had been suggested to them by a Home Office presentation, and were, for example, developing a self-financing national security system. Whether or not their actions were actually illegal, and there not having been any test case this was to an extent unknown, in order to procede they would have needed only to be sufficiently sure that a case would be unlikely ever to come to court.

    Can El Reg please point us in the direction of presentations that the Home Office has made to the comms industry in this area?

  44. Alex
    Alien

    why not mention trials?

    well, and this is just speculation...

    suppose that the original trials were using the IP logging system.

    suppose that it was actually a data harvesting exercise

    suppose that someone senior within BT "gave access to the network for a trail" but only in return for a position within the company running the "trial"

    suppose that a marketing company is only worth the value of its database

    suppose when they say "we can see the entire internet" they are actually talking to the harvesting and profiling carried out to produce a database

    suppose that database was called OIX

    now that would be wrong wouldn't it, nobody would seriously do that would they?

  45. Andy Barber
    Coat

    @AC & Sam

    I am Sparticus!

    Mine's the loin cloth in the pocket!

  46. david wilson

    @AC

    >>"Perhaps this was the meeting where phorm demonstrated how easy it would be to have a 'security' interest channel. Ongoing, mass screening of British broadband use and it won't cost you a penny."

    You reckon that there aren't *already* mechanisms for TPTB to intercept internet traffic, whether or not the target happens to use BT as their ISP?

  47. Ian
    Unhappy

    I find the Press Office's attitude odd.

    I find the Home Office's Press Office's attitude odd. Andrew Knight is clearly trusted to talk to journalists (as was his predecessor Simon Watkin). Evidence for this is that he was a speaker at the FIPR 'birthday party' meeting a few weeks back, and happily answered questions from journalists such as Duncan Campbell and Wendy Grossmann, who both identified themselves as such. Indeed, anyone with experience of FIPR public meetings could predict that Duncan would have been there.

    So who's hiding what here? Is Andrew Knight trying to avoid the questions by punting it to the Press Office or is the Press Office just being obnoxious as a twisted kind of method of creating job security?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @By David Pollard

    B**locks!

    Are you on Phorms Parole, or do you have senior relatives in BT?

    Seriously, you are living a Walter Mitty existence if that's your defence!

    So I book a ticket with an airline to go on an aeroplane with a shoe bomb.

    Nobody catches me and I detonate it. Hundreds of innocent lives are lost and I am the only survivor.

    I eventually get caught and my defence?

    Your Honour. I was just testing the system for you. I doing a covert operation to test the security. You do want your security tested do you not??

  49. Blasmeme
    Flame

    UK's Echelon

    This has gone on so long with so little action that I think it's a bit bigger than an advertising model. I'm sure it does tat too but i am beginning to wonder if the civil service/government is trying to construct a UK version of Echelon. doses Google have meetings with the home office? Does Yahoo? What the hell did they talk about and what was decided?

    Cuz it's fire sale time.

  50. C Blackmore
    Go

    Now do you see what David Davis is on about?

    It's blindingly obvious why the Home Office has been squirming away from demands to prosecute the Phorm spyware outfit. They had met Phorm and decided that spying on all emails, all web browsing, all electronic communication, everything, would be the best way to consolidate the ruling party's grip on power.

    Do you see why Gordon doesn't denounce Mugabe?

    It only remains to find a way to leave this country. If you can't beat them, and you are too intelligent to be asked to join them, get out while you can.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Look you lot

    Why are you all so surprised about HMG being in bed with criminals like Phorm when HMG have been in bed in a much bigger way with criminals like BAe Systems for far longer?

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    Allegedly. Just in case.

  52. Watashi

    Our Might Leader

    Brown is (as was Blair before him) a Statist and a true believer in the 'social contract' – that is, he believes that the act of being born into a country is enough to sign you up to giving tacit support for whatever rules the State sees fit to impose on you. This means that as long as a government is mandated (i.e. voted for by the public) it can do whatever it wants (e.g. go to war on the basis of a pack of lies) and the public is morally required to put up with it. You are a British citizen; therefore you are obliged to conform to the wishes of the British State.

    Old-fashioned institutions that may oppose the wishes of the State, such as the Justice System or the House of Lords, are, in Brown's mind, anachronisms that should be bypassed wherever possible. After all, these bodies were not voted for, and so are not 'mandated' - they cannot understand what the people need, and provide an obstacle standing in the way of his ideal society. Because it was elected, Gordon Brown believes that New Labour is the literal embodiment of the State, and that he, being its ‘chosen’ leader, is the focus of that embodiment. In his own mind, Brown doesn't serve the law, he IS the law (Grud on a greenie!).

    That BT broke the letter of the law is, therefore, irrelevant. Serving the State is a ‘get out of jail free’ card as far as Brown is concerned, and as long as he personally approves of their activities, he will allow them to continue - no matter what anyone else says. Religion, industry, human rights laws, science... all these things are good when working (as defined by Brown) FOR the State, but are bad when working AGAINST the State. Brown's position as PM is all the self-justification he needs for his righteousness, which means that our society’s moral compass is in the hands of a single puritanical, antisocial, control-freakish, paranoid idiot.

    In other words, we're all phucked.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @"UK's Echelon"

    Not sure what your point is. The Echelon global interception network already exists, and the UK is already a participant in it.

    http://cryptome.org/echelon-ep-fin.htm includes a link to (and the contents of) a detailed EU report on Echelon.

    If there was an emailed agenda for the Phorm/HomeOffice meeting, will it be squirreled away safely somewhere, eg in an Echelon archive?

  54. Bobby
    Stop

    Sigh...

    There was a time when law meant something in the UK but today you buy it...

  55. Mark
    Pirate

    Just change the law

    I read somewhere recently that the gov are going to replace RIPA, I think in the next parliament. Whats the betting it turns out to be even more repugnant than it's predecessor? Or perhaps adds a bit that retrospectively allows Phorm/BTs shennanigans.

    Perhaps that was a component of the phorm/ home office discussions, a promise to the effect of: "Just keep your noses clean and grit your teeth, and you'll get a shoo-in next year" After all, there's nothing uk.gov hates more than it citizens, and nothing it likes more than business. It's open season on privacy in the UK.

    Skull and crossbones 'cos this government is pure poison.

  56. Mark
    Unhappy

    @David Wilson

    "You reckon that there aren't *already* mechanisms for TPTB to intercept internet traffic, whether or not the target happens to use BT as their ISP?"

    No, I'm certain they can learn the ins and outs of a cats arse if they target an *individual*, however they communicate.

    I don't think, however, that they can routinely screen virtually the entire internet using community in this country, 24 hrs a day, every day, for free.

    Until now I thought this was incompetance or at worst, corruption. Now I think it is the opportunity of a 'freebee CCTV system of the internet' that is driving it.

    "Hey guys, let us do this, and you can tell us every morning what key-words you want in *your* channel".

    This whole thing has the feel of Home Office cock-up, all over it.

    That's from somebody who has never written to their MP or posted in a forum before phorm raised it's head.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Now do you see what David Davis is on about?

    "would be the best way to consolidate the ruling party's grip on power."

    Gordon promise he would change to bring labour back on track. The best way to consolidate his grip on power is to start acting as though they had come into power again and make the changes that are necessary. Listen to the electorate, Get rid of Phorm!

  58. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Doe Maar .... Take AI Trip....... *

    "Private individuals who believe their broadband line was subject to the secret wiretapping "

    In some cases, just to know will be more than enough to justify the secrecy and further Energise the ProgramMIng with ITs Special Force, AIVD.

    Advanced IntelAIgents Virtual Defence.

    * amfM calling TUDelft AI for the Colours of Oranje.

    Please feel free to Step into the Ring at any Time during the Games. And the Object of Lovers' Games? Their Surrender to ITs Physical Addiction for the Passion Given Freely.

  59. Art Hawkes

    and what about Article 8 of ECHR?

    I wrote to viviane Reding about Phorm about a week ago - no reply yet. But to quote: Compatibility with the fundamental right to respect for private life (Article 8 of the ECHR).

    H. whereas any interception of communications represents serious interference with an individual’s exercise of the right to privacy; whereas Article 8 of the ECHR, which guarantees respect for private life, permits interference with the exercise of that right only in the interests of national security, in so far as this is in accordance with domestic law and the provisions in question are generally accessible and lay down under what circumstances, and subject to what conditions, the state may undertake such interference; whereas interference must be proportionate, so that competing interests need to be weighed up and, under the terms of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, it is not enough that the interference should merely be useful or desirable,

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To Joe re: Watchdog.

    It was mentioned on the Gadget Show a few weeks ago, but they didn't get all attack-journalist about it. Maybe some activism directed that way might be a start.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Now's the chance to get this sorted

    [We asked if it was Home office policy to threaten journalists with excommunication if they try talking to senior civil servants. "No," she said. "It's just the way it is."]

    Chris, This needs to be shouted from the rooftops not a bootnote, tell every journalist you know about this (especially in "mainstream media"). This gives every journalist an avenue to attack the government and raise the profile of this.

    [The Home Office refused to disclose further details of who was present at the August 2007 meeting with Phorm, how it was arranged, or what was discussed, saying that the information remained the subject of an ongoing FOI inquiry.]

    Or to paraphrase "we can't give you this information because someone has asked for this information", WHAT?

    Everyone involved in this know is stinks but is still pushing ahead. I wouldn't want to accuse any of our benevolent public servants of being corrupt but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

  62. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge
    Flame

    The Public love Phorm

    People I speak to have not heard of it and don't really get worked up about it. They assume this stuff goes on all the time. If it means better advertising and catching paedophiles they love it. Even a Linux chap I know is in love with BT and all they stand for, he is delighted his comunications are going through Phorm and believes that he has opted out in any case.

    Plenty of people in this country think we need to get rid of human rights and we need the police watching everything with do 24/7 on CCTV.

    I don't think any ordinary person is going to care until the director of Phorm is caught running a paedophile ring based on snooped data traffic of children. Even then that will be OK because he has a lot of money so is respectable and can be allowed his eccentricities.

  63. Tim
    Thumb Down

    Comment

    If you ask me the home office said if we can have a copy of the source data we won't do anything to you.

  64. amanfromMars Silver badge

    A Bumper Hamper with Radical Algorithms KnightsBridge

    "and they've got a trusted source to refer to (rather than just el reg who most of the UK haven't heard of and hence is scary) ... By Adam Foxton Posted Wednesday 18th June 2008 14:30 GMT

    That Ole Black MaJIC Watch Stealth, Adam. Resources in Plain Sight XXXXChanging Source Codes/Driver Keys

    "They just leave it to their partners. It's the first PPP involving GCHQ." .... By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 18th June 2008 14:48 GMT

    And have they Provided Dividend further Addding Value for Increased Benefits? What Mechanism Triggers XXXXSighted Response? :-).... Into Temptation with Eve.

    On Earth as a Man, Seventh Heaven. Satisfaction Guaranteed

    "in order to procede they would have needed only to be sufficiently sure that a case would be unlikely ever to come to court." ... By David Pollard Posted Wednesday 18th June 2008 18:01 GMT

    To Proceed on the Knowledge of that Certainty would allow for Product BetaTrials with Nodes of Interest/Attraction.

    "which means that our society’s moral compass is in the hands of a single puritanical, antisocial, control-freakish, paranoid idiot." .... By Watashi Posted Wednesday 18th June 2008 18:57 GMT

    If one is always looking for the mirror of oneself for Desire, it is QuITe Revealing of our Friends and Partners/Lovers and SoulMates aka SMARTPlayMates.

    Alien Apache Hallowed Ground, Naturally. ..... for AIdDeadheads R&R/Base Code Injection.

    And that Proposal to Alex [and Ra] :-)

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    law and order

    How can HMG criticise the hooded masses for flouting the law when HMG themselves pick and choose which laws to enforce based on whether one of the cabinet is on the board ??? (like BT and Patricia Hewitt)

    http://www.btplc.com/Thegroup/Theboard/Non-executivedirectors/RtHonPatriciaHewittMP/index.htm

  66. Ross

    Title

    Whilst this debacle *does* need to be dealt with and brought to light, the Press Office were correct to deal with El Reg as they did.

    For the 99% of you that don't work in an organisation with a press office, the whole point of a press office is to field queries from the press. The rest of the organisation do NOT answer questions from journalists. If a journalist asks you anything you direct them to the press office. The press already know this, and frankly it's poor journalism to try to go straight to a senior officer. What the hell do you think he;s going to do? Yes, forward it to the press office. If you want to talk with him you set up an interview. If he won't give you one then so be it. You work around it.

    I know this is a very frustrating situation that is just not getting a foothold in the mainstream press, but you have to be patient, work hard with your contacts in more mainstream positions and maybe create a strong, single grassroots movement that *will* get noticed. Trying to circumvent the press office is a beginners mistake.

    Basically, no court case = no mainstream press coverage. To them this is old news. It happened, it's not happening. A court case changes that. If you want results partner up with some folk and pay for a private RIPA prosecution. You may even get some increased traffic out of it. I vote for AO as front man!

  67. david wilson

    @Mark

    >>"No, I'm certain they can learn the ins and outs of a cats arse if they target an *individual*, however they communicate.

    I don't think, however, that they can routinely screen virtually the entire internet using community in this country, 24 hrs a day, every day, for free."

    For TPTB to get the kind of information they might like, wouldn't that involve either Phorm having to effectively hand over the setting-up of search categories, etc to the authorities, or to have the authorities telling Phorm employees specifically what they're looking for, which they may not be keen on doing?

    Unless Phorm is going to be a universal system, many people with specific criminal stuff to hide will presumably move to other ISPs.

    Even if the average person doesn't know too much about Phorm, those who really want to avoid scrutiny may be rather more likely to be cautious.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Valued BT Customer

    I've seen a couple of comments up there about "am I not a valued BT Customer?".

    The short answer is "no", frankly. BT does not value it's Residential customers, and this is (unwritten) company policy. I've actually heard the phrase "Is it a Residential Customer? f*ck 'em, cut em off" as orders to the abuse dept.

    I've also been privy to discussions where the cost of a residential customer has been discussed - we literally cost BT money! BT would be better off if it could remove itself from the Residential market and concentrate on Business customers - and don't you small business owners start getting all smarmy and secure, because that doesn't mean you either!

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dont think Phorm will work for me

    I am a BT customer and totally disagree with the misuse of my browsing history. After all I'm paying them a monthly fee and I WILL move elsewhere if I cannot opt-out.

    (Note on opt-outs - they are unreliable, most companies allow themselves to edit user configurations via there terms and conditions - I remember one of the larger web companies that provide email services opting there users back into something they had opted out of because saying that had that power to change users profiles....)

    Anyhow my real reason for comment.(sorry this doesnt relate to the trial or home office - just Phrom/BT in general)

    Firstly I have never bought/got involved with a company because an advert (yes really). I cannot see Phorm working for me and targeting me with things of interest to me as I share a computer with my wife and daughter. We have an admin account only known to me for maintenance purposes. All browsing is done via a SHARED standard account. How will phorm know its me browsing and not my wife?. Will I get all her interest in say kitchens use to serve up kitchen appliances to me? Will I get young girls clothing adds when I browse because of my daughters recent browsing histories. Worse will she get adult adds because I browsed an adult DVD site the other day :)

    Does Phorm/BT now require me now have personnel account on my machine just so they can target me...(Sorry I decide here not my ISP & their malware partner).

    wont work and dont want (and the goverment in cahoots with big business - nothing new there!)

    rant over - thanks

  70. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Title

    Hi Ross,

    "Trying to circumvent the press office is a beginners mistake."

    I find your attitude disturbing. It is the job of the press to interrogate those in power, not to give PR operatives something to do. If journalists only ever went though official channels what wouldn't we know?

    That the Iraq WMD dossier was sexed-up

    That Richard Nixon covered-up Watergate

    About the My Lai massacre

    That the Birmigham six were innocent

    The effect of thalidamide on foetal development

    And countless other facts that make those in power uncomfortable.

    Now I'm not necessarily making a direct comparison with the seriousness of those situations here, but as a principle, disallowing journalists from speaking to public servants directly is a dangerous road to travel.

    I'm a reporter. It's my job to find out the truth, not to lead campaigns. The Home office press office wouldn't tell me the truth, so I asked a man who knows. You are saying that the Home Office is correct to threaten that it will not answer *any* questions because I did this? Respectfully, you are either very wrong, or do not want to live in a democracy. Fortunately, I think you're in a minority there.

    - Chris

  71. Eponymous Cowherd
    Unhappy

    @ david wilson

    ***"Even if the average person doesn't know too much about Phorm, those who really want to avoid scrutiny may be rather more likely to be cautious."***

    That obvious fact hasn't stopped our glorious leaders from introducing a whole splurge of unworkable legislation that is trivial for real crooks and terrorists to avoid, but seriously undermines the civil liberties of the law abiding majority.

  72. Sparkypatrick

    @AC on GB

    The Prime Minister is not elected, but appointed by the Queen. By convention, she nominates the chosen candidate of the majority party in parliament; but in theory, she could pick anyone she likes.

    The Labour party have a mandate to govern, for better or worse (very much leaning towards the other, right now) and have no more obligation to call an election to ratify a change of leadership than any past government has had. Major certainly didn't call an early election after succeeding Thatcher.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Ross

    Having worked for companies with a Press Office, there are always senior individuals who are trusted to talk directly to the press without being hand held.

    The only time when these senior individuals would pass, and let the Press Office take over was when they did not want to have to answer the questions due to the damage it could do to their reputation (better to let the answers - or not - to come from a PR department than have their name directly associated with it - this leave scope for them to swoop in with a compromise or solution when it is badly received).

    It doesn't hurt to contact someone directly - you might get the answers you want or you might get refered to the Press Office - either way you don't lose anything (press departments who blacklist reporters are just childish as it has no real effect). As for the response from the Press Office, they clearly haven't figured out how to spin what is surely going to be damaging information, and are annoyed at el Reg for being persistant and trying to work around their stonewalling.

    Paris coz she doesn't mind the direct approach

  74. Mark

    mandate

    "The Labour party have a mandate to govern, for better or worse"

    But how can a party with less than a quater of the public able to vote voting for them be considered to have any sort of mandate? There's no "none of the above" and if there were, nothing to say what would happen.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Hackers unite .... please

    I wish I had spent time learning how to hack. It would be nice if all the nice hackers united to shaft Phorm, BT, Virgin, Talk Talk and all the other wankers involved in this shitty infringment of RIPA that our Government high has no interest in protecting.

  76. david wilson

    @Chris Williams

    >"If journalists only ever went though official channels what wouldn't we know?

    That the Iraq WMD dossier was sexed-up..."

    IIRC, "sexed up" was the journalist's phrase, presumably chosen because it would sound good on the news, and because it's the kind of thing many other journalists would be keen to re-use to the point of near-instant cliche.

    In any case, without any journalists of the Gilligan calibre, we'd likely have been aware precisely as soon that WMDs were failing to materialise. Indeed, to quite an extent, we already were so aware before Gilligan popped up on *Today*.

  77. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Alien

    MetaDataMind Mines ..... IPFlows...... NEUKlearer HyperRadioProActive Power for Control.

    "I wish I had spent time learning how to hack. It would be nice if all the nice hackers united to shaft Phorm, BT, Virgin, Talk Talk and all the other wankers involved in this shitty infringment of RIPA that our Government high has no interest in protecting." ... By Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 19th June 2008 16:17 GMT

    Write Crack CodeXXXX and Share IT Open Source Transparently will dDeeply Embed IT in All ELINT Systems and that is not Hacking, IT is Source Service.

  78. ElFatbob

    W@nkers, the lot of them.

    'Are we all part of some spectacular "f5ck you" competition to see which entity can demonstrate the most contempt for the human beings they are forced to interact with?'

    My thoughts exactly. But what do we expect from a meeting between two bunches of wankers?

  79. dephormation.org.uk
    Alert

    Can it really be a coincidence...

    that 24 hours after Home Office link to Phorm is published, all Phorms web servers move from Gyron in the UK over to PSInet in the USA?

    And 24 hours before the EU supposedly have a secret meeting with the UK Government?

    What on earth is going on here?

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Avast!

    What's is a Libertarian to do about these bankrupt collectivist parasites and crooked corporations.

    My traffic is already part encrypted, if this shit become routine, I'll encrypt and obfuscate it all.

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