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UK Home Office Responds to EC Internet Privacy and Phorm Probe

Posted: 04th Feb, 2010 By: MarkJ
internet privacy phormThe UK Home Office, which last month missed a crucial European Commission (EC) deadline that required responses to several legal Internet and ISP privacy policy concerns, has finally written back to the EC. The government had originally been asked to respond by the end of December 2009 or face the prospect of further action.

ISPreview has since learnt that the Home Office was in fact granted an extension to the EC’s deadline. The governments reply was subsequently issued on 18th January 2010, though to date the Home Office has not responded to our requests for further information about the content of its letter. No surprise there.

A Home Office Spokesperson Confirmed:

"In response to your enquiry I can state you that the European Commission invited the UK to apply for an extension to the original deadline to reply to the Reasoned Opinion. An extension was granted. The Home Office has now replied on 18th January 2010."

In October last year the European Commission (EC) opened a second phase of infringement proceedings against the UK concerning a lack of full privacy and personal data protection (here). This was directly related to Phorm , the potential misuse of Deep Packet Inspect (DPI) technology and BT's secret trials of similar methods.

The controversy over Phorm initially arose after it emerged in 2008 that BT had run two secret trials of Phorm's technology on customers, without their consent, during 2006 and 2007. So began a lengthy campaign against Phorm and its perceived abuse of private personal data, which many likened to being little different from Spyware.

Phorm worked with UK broadband ISPs ( BT , TalkTalk and Virgin Media ) to develop a system that would monitor what websites you visit for use in targeted advertising campaigns. However it has since gone quiet after major backers effectively put their plans on ice, at least in the UK.
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