back to article Brussels to sue UK over Phorm failures

The European Commission has revealed plans to sue the UK government over its failure to take any action against BT and Phorm for their secret broadband interception and profiling trials. Last year The Register revealed the pair had run covert wiretaps on tens of thousands of broadband lines in two trials in 2006 and 2007, to …


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  1. Tim Wolfe-Barry


    "The ICO accepted BT's argument that it would have been hard to explain Phorm's interception and profiling system to internet users whose communications it was being tested on."

    So if it's too difficult to explain WHY and HOW you're monitoring someone, it's OK to go ahead?

    Presumably that means I can tap phones too, as long as I have no good reason and only do it to people who don't understand the technology involved?


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Oh really?

    "The ICO accepted BT's argument that it would have been hard to explain Phorm's interception and profiling system to internet users whose communications it was being tested on."

    So its not illegal if the person you are logging does not know/understand whats going on.

    Is that just like saying "I hacked into that shop you just ought something on and stole your credit card. But its too technical for you to understand. So you cant call the police on me"?

  3. Jonathan

    I wuv the EU!

    Thank you Viviene Reding!

    Lets hope something actually happens now. Perhaps now that they are faced with legal action and a hefty fine, the government will stop the cronyism and do something about it. Of course, I'd rather that the EU impose the fine than the UK gov, since we know how lighthanded the UK gov will be on its cronies.

  4. g e


    I hope gets fined even though the taxpayer will have to bail them out in the end of course.

    I reckon no action was taken cos wants the project to go ahead so they can have access to all the data under data retention laws, thereby creating a very large traffic logging system at no cost of all BT customer traffic, BT being the largest ISP.

  5. Steve


    What happened to the term "Iggnorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law"?? Oh wait the Laws ni the country get re-written to suit

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Not in whose interest?

    As stated by the MET: Prosecution is not in the publics interest.

    So the EU sue the tax payer (via government)

    Well, It is in the taxpayers interest now!!!

    MET wake up. and lock up.

    'the bigger they are the harder they are to fell'?? no its 'the harder they fall!'

  7. Andy Watt
    Thumb Down

    "hard to explain" - crappy excuse, eh?

    Notice that the statement that "The ICO accepted BT's argument that it would have been hard to explain Phorm's interception and profiling system to internet users whose communications it was being tested on." is in the past tense.

    This statement is a total fabrication - it's even a feeble attempt to characterise past conversations in such a way as to excuse the handling of this whole sorry mess up until now.

    Moreover, I think it's fair to say that this statement should actually be interpreted as:

    "The ICO did not have sufficient technical understanding of Phorm's interception and profiling system and, to save face and get any kind of decision made within 20 years, accepted BT's argument that it would have been hard to explain the system to internet users whose communications it was being tested on."

    That's what I read between the lines of this utterly pathetic excuse.

    I want an apology from Gordon Brown for this one! :-) arf arf


    'Intentional' interception?

    So are the government are trying to claim that the Phorm trials happened by 'accident'?

    The Phorm trials were deliberate, malicious abuse of private communication traffic by a company with an extended history of developing polymorphic spyware.

    It was no accident.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    This is great news, because human rights are enforced in a twisted sort of way in this country, so this makes me be thankful for the EU membership.

    I've come to understand that in this country people who openly want to cause harm on a massive scale can apply and get financial and other kinds of support backed by us the taxpayers, while innocent people's rights are not protected when having their freedoms/rights violated.

    For examples of the former see Abu Hamza, etc.

    for examples of the latter see DeMenezes, Tomilinson, etc.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    More Euro meddling!

    How DARE the EU think is is above the UK government on these shores. We fought WARS and THOUSANDS DIED to keep these shores safe from foreign control!

    The EU should have NO SAY in how the UK government allows companies, agencies and departments to invade and destroy the public's privacy.....err.....hang on a mo'.....

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    This only punished the taxpayer

    So the Eu is going to fine the UK for illegal wiretapping. The taxpayer picks up the bill. So we are essentially paying for the privilege of being spied upon?

    Surely the correct approach would be criminal sanctions against the individuals involved; those people responsible at BT, at Phorm, at the Met, and in government.

    AC, because you never know who's listening, but you can be fairly sure that anyone who is is not your friend...

  12. al
    Paris Hilton

    My analogy of "hard to explain" bit

    So it would be okay to go ahead and sleep with PH because it would be so hard to explain it to my wife. ;-)

    PH, coz she can make things hard.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thanks EU!

    Never thought I'd say this but it's news like this that makes me think that maybe there are good reasons to be part of the EU after all!

    Thanks Viviene & team!

  14. John Bayly
    Thumb Down

    So sad that we have to rely on Brussels to protect us

    Nuff said really.

  15. Ed

    Good news, on the face of it...

    ...until you consider where the money to pay the fine ultimately comes from. It comes from us! Our government has failed to protect our privacy, and as such they are fined which comes out of money *we* have paid in taxes.

    I'm glad that something is finally being done about this, but fining the people who have been affected by the wiretaps is not the solution.

  16. David Viner Silver badge


    Apart from who will pick up the tab....

    But, hopefully, this will dissuade Virgin and Talk Talk from going ahead with their own schemes to introduce Phorm.

    It's about time the government remembers who they answer to.

    Where's that V for Vendetta icon....?

  17. Rog69

    Fine by me.

    I don't care that the money to pay a fine would come from the taxpayers, if the aftermath helps toward blowing Phorm out of the water then it's money well spent as far as I'm concerned.

    Besides, they would only spend it on soft core porn and bath plugs anyway.

  18. g e

    @More Euro meddling!

    Exactly the attitude that has me wanting to leave the UK ASAP and I'm as white & English as they come (no not nationalistic or racist to the ones about to hit the BNP/etc button).

    Have you seen the shithole the UK has turned into? Those things over your windows are called curtains, open them and LOOK OUTSIDE.

    Or maybe you live in one of the very few remaining idyllic areas of the country which still feels like 40 years ago...

    Thank fark I can speak more than just English (thanks to the education system of yesteryear, may it rest in peace).

  19. Yorkshirepudding

    die phorm die!

    burn in hell you orwellian bastard child yay for the eu for once!

  20. Anonymous Coward

    more stealth tax

    Great, so I'm paying because my government didn't fight something I didn't want in the first place ... great

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eh? V2.0

    "Under UK law, which is enforced by the UK police, it is an offence to unlawfully intercept communications. However, the scope of this offence is limited to 'intentional' interception only."

    "Moreover, according to this law, interception is also considered to be lawful when the interceptor has 'reasonable grounds for believing' that consent to interception has been given. The Commission is also concerned that the UK does not have an independent national supervisory authority dealing with such interceptions."

    Go on then, you've got me. How do you unintentionally intercept communication?

    Reasonable grounds for beieving that consent has been given? How could they possibly believe consent had been given when they hadn't even sought it? Are they saying it's reasonable to believe that consent would have been given had they bothered to ask for it? Presumably their "reasonable grounds" are that they are a bunch of cheeky twats. "Yes m'lud I took the Ferrari without the owner's permission, but I had reasonable grounds to believe that he would have given his permission had I asked for it."

    The more that this shite goes on the more popular proxies and https will become.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too hard to explain ?

    How hard is it to explain how the BT Retail CTO at the time BT were denying the trials, one Stratis Scleparis, ended up as CTO at Phorm a few months later?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Criminal Charges

    OK so the UK Government gets fined, we pay.

    BT get fined - they are a monopoly - its customers pay.

    So I would like to suggest the EU bring criminal charges against BT. A prison sentence would be a good deterrent.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Hitewise: the elephant in the room

    At some point surely someone must mention Hitwise? Hitwise have had boxes in the ISPs monitoring internet usage (sorry, I think I am meant to call it wiretapping) for years.

    The difference is they have been doing it in a *non-invasive* manner and aggregating the data. Perhaps the government should have a word with them to help understand how to explain the issues and how best to legislate on them?

  25. Dave Row

    A sad day

    Its a very sad day for democracy in this country when an unelected multinational body has more concern for our citizens than our government

  26. Muscleguy
    Thumb Up

    Initial fine only the start

    Note that even if the EC decides to fine the UK govt over this that doesn't mean they have done their time and can then ignore the issue. The fine is just a hurry up, they still have to substantively address the issue and make the changes required. The sanctions just get bigger and nastier if they don't. So fear not, this will be no slap on the wrist.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The CPS is the REAL problem

    The real problem in England & Wales is the CPS (in Scotland its the Crown Office). As long as you have a department WHOLLY AND EXCLUSIVELY controlled by govt which decides what prosecutions are "in the public interest" then you have NO rule of law.

    What's required is a grand jury system, which the UK had until the 1930s (IIRC) when politicians finally got rid of it after many years trying.

    The UK has "crony law" and has absolutely no business lecturing any other country on the planet about the "rule of law". Thank fuck for the EU!

  28. Jonathan

    @Not in whose interest?

    You have a point, in that if gets fined, that essentially means we get fined. I wish there were some way that the EU could force the to be accountable and only

    What should happen is that those personally responsible should be fined from their salaries, and possibly barred from public office. Then, BT should be sued, and the execs who decided on the covert trials should get jail sentences. A man can dream right?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Thank you BT


    I now support the BT/Phorm position 100%.

    Get lost you interfering EU persons!

    I feel safer in my country knowing that if I ever find myself detained for 42 days for no reason, I can invoke the "You are all too stupid to understand me" defense and the powers that be will simply crumble in the face of such a cogent argument.

  30. Eponymous Cowherd
    Black Helicopters

    Phorm's business model relies on illegal interception.

    ***"The EU Directive on privacy and electronic communications requires EU Member States to ensure confidentiality of the communications and related traffic data by prohibiting unlawful interception and surveillance unless the users concerned have consented (Article 5(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC)."***

    The "users concerned" in any web interaction are the ISP customer and the web site owner. If Phorm / BT didn't / don't ask for explicit permission for the interception of traffic between a web site and a visitor then they are in direct contravention of the Directive.

    Irrespective of whether Phorm / Webwise offers ISP customers an opt-in or opt-out, unless they refrain from intercepting data from web sites that have not explicitly opted-in then they are operating *illegally*!

    That, effectively, means that Phorm can only legally profile sites that are Phorm / OIX partners. This gives those sites no commercial advantage. The upshot is that Phorm's business model relies on an *illegal* mode of operation.

    Phorm can never be viable *and* legal.

  31. Cameron Colley

    We all know the police were too busy looking through rubbish.

    Sadly, the police are more likely to use their new-found law creating powers to spread fear and mistrust throughout the population -- can't have people using mobile phones or cameras can we?

    As has been said -- the fine is a pointless extra tax for us sheep -- surely the police should be investigated for failing to follow up on the report of a crime and those responsible for this should be imprisoned?

  32. Ryan Barrett

    ICO logic

    [quote]The ICO accepted BT's argument that it would have been hard to explain Phorm's interception and profiling system to internet users whose communications it was being tested on.[/quote]

    So, lets say I someone ran over the BT CEO's kid, killing them.

    Following BT's logic, it would be better hide the body and not tell him about it. As, after all, telling him you've murdered his kid is "hard to explain".

    I'm of the view that if the EU win this, we should be pursuing criminal prosecutions against these at the ICO who went along with BT's argument.

    It stinks of back handers and corruption in general.

  33. Joe K
    Thumb Up


    We've all given the EU stick over its straight-banana laws and such like, but this really proves their worth, yay for the EU!

    We saved your arse from the Nazis', now you save us from our rotten government and Nazi-like telecommunication monolith.

  34. psychochief
    Thumb Up

    i want you to have my babies Viviene !!!!!!! :O)

    only one word needed :-


  35. g e

    @Criminal charges

    I like this.

    Put BT in prison, LOL.

    ESPECIALLY customer support, doubly so ;o)

  36. Codge

    Another EU law they should enforce... But don't!

    Off topic I know, but there is another piece of EU legislation that the British government choose to ignore.

    EU rules state that all items bought new in Europe should come with a two year warranty. Try getting any shop to comply with that!


    of 25 May 1999


    Bastards, one and all...

  37. b

    @ g e

    You might want to take note of the "Joke Alert" icon in future...

  38. TeeCee Gold badge

    Hard to explain?

    Really? I'll have a go then.

    "We're going to intercept and look at everything you say and do on the Internet to prove that we can."

    There, that was simple. If the ICO hasn't got anyone who can work that one out then they must be recruiting from the shallow end of the gene pool.

  39. Roy Stilling
    Thumb Up

    Vivat Europa!

    Let's all remember this in June and make sure we vote for pro-EU candidates in the European elections.

  40. Anonymous Coward


    "The Commission said: "Under UK law, which is enforced by the UK police, it is an offence to unlawfully intercept communications. However, the scope of this offence is limited to 'intentional' interception only."

    Oh so I guess that BT/Phorm only 'accidentally' snooped on everyone's web browsing then huh?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    About time!

    It's about time someone started taking note of the UK's laws.

    What a shame we can no longer rely on government or the police in the UK to enforce them anymore.

  42. IndianaJ
    Thumb Up


    Glad to see more bad press about this repugnant technology. I was fearing they were on an upward curve after seeing this :

    Nice to see them redefine 'trawl' to meet their evil needs.

  43. Dervla

    Shurely Shum Mistake

    Hmmm, AFAIK Phorm isn't live with any ISP at present. Therefore it's hard to see on what basis the EU have based their accusations unless it's outdated/uninformed information spoon fed by the antis.

    If consumers opt-in as part of their ISP contract, perhaps as part of a discount scheme or something similar, and are fully aware of the consequences then any Privacy issues are null and void.

    Since no-one outside Phorm and their partners has any idea whatsoever how it will be implemented, and there are various options available, this all seems to be a bit of bargaining by the EU to force the UK into accepting some other bit of legislation.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Missing the point

    The Germans, French...... (keep on adding to this list until you get bored) don't pay their EU fines. So why should the cash-strapped British Govt?

    This is a win-win situation for the politicians; The EU is seen to act tough, and Labour ignore them (spin this as "Protecting the British Tax payer from Brussels Bureaucracy" and the Charmless Man may even get a few more votes)

    Nothing is going to change for the rest of us.

  45. g e

    @b Ahhhh

    But I don't see the icons... maybe I should ease up on adblocker+

    I didn't REALLY think anyone was going to put all BT staff (and their gear) in prison, however... Not that it wasn't an amusing thought, mind you.

  46. g e


    And now I can see WHICH comment has the joke alert icon...

    D O H

    The UK has still become a shithole though... Standing by that one.

  47. John Smith Gold badge


    "I hacked into that shop you just ought something on and stole your credit card. But its too technical for you to understand. So you cant call the police on me"?

    Yes in principle, no in practice. You are you. BT are a global corporation who can hire ex ICO employees at good salaries and (AFAIK) the ICO seems to be claiming that it does not regulate non governmental wire taps and (it appears) neither does anyone else. It seems to be claiming that no one thought their would need to be a regulator to cover this area as no one could run a business on large scale un-requested wire taps.

    And note how eager this government has been to comply with the EU data retention directive, rather less so with its Privacy Directive, which is substantially older.

  48. Tom

    So they have to create a new law...

    That they can ignore just like the old law.

  49. b
    Thumb Down

    and are fully aware of the consequences

    Then I'll eat my hat.

  50. Jimmy

    Trickle-down or pissed on?

    Mandelson's laws of Light-Touch regulation.

    1 Thou shalt not impede in any way whatsoever an enterprise that is fully engaged in the wealth creation process which will eventually, by means of the trickle-down effect, enrich everyone.

    2 For the purpose of wealth creation it will be legitimate to disregard old-fashioned concepts such as 'citizen's rights' and replace them with the more appropriate term 'consumer's obligations'.

    3 Those who generate the nation's wealth will receive special consideration and easy access to government ministers when they feel they are being obstructed in their pursuit of legitimate profits.

    Mandelson is quoted as saying "New Labour has no problem with people becoming filthy rich, provided they pay their taxes". So how did that work out, Pete? As we all know they did in fact become filthy rich at our expense and promptly off shored their profits so that they didn't have to pay any taxes. Who's a clever boy, then, Petey?

    Phorm came late to the party having suddenly realised that UK inc. would welcome any old sleaze bag outfit with open arms. Did I forget to mention another one of Pete's great ideas, an open invitation to the Florida Mafia to set up forty 'super casinos' in the UK?

    Thanks to our more civilised European neighbours we may yet be spared the attentions of the despised Phorm outfit. Here at home our best option looks to be a hung parliament with a strengthened Lib Dem party able to put the mockers on the other two 'greed is good' mobs.

  51. al
    Paris Hilton


    Maybe you ARE into that sort of a look/thing.. but have you ever seen her ? Or, were you planning on a sperm drop ?

    PH, coz I've a chance only if she has never seen me.

  52. Ad Fundum
    Black Helicopters

    @ Dervla

    I assume you're just a Phorm disinformation stooge planted here to spread propaganda ... or else you haven't found the 'Joke Alert' icon yet.

    The information upon which Brussels based their accusations is neither outdated nor uninformed. I'm not really sure what you base this opinion on. Phorm and BT openly admitted to the wiretaps retrospectively and even trotted out the fact that they took legal opinion on it; which hardly counts as disinformation 'spoonfed by the antis'. The fact that these acts took place is not disputed.

    The nature of these acts, however, is wildly disputed. Anyone with a basic grasp of English knows that they were wrong and illegal, and everyone with a vested interest (or disinterest in the sake of the Police - who are they going to shoot/bash in the head if it all happens online?) is trying to obfuscate the issue by introducing irrelevancies .

  53. Midnight_Voice
    Thumb Up

    The muscles from Brussels

    Good for Viviene Reding - and a firm reminder to the UK government of what they should have done in the first place. I don't think, though, that the UK doesn't have the required laws - after all we've been listing for ages the four that Phorm breaks - RIPA, DPA, Copyright Act and Forgery Act.

    So what's been missing, and what she's really fastened on, is that no-one in authority in the UK seems willing to enforce these laws, and that no-one who isn't in authority, like us ordinary citizens, seems to have any way to force them to act, or to act ourselves, or to impeach those whose public duty it is to act if they don't do it.

    Though I agree it's a sad day for the UK when it takes the EU to reset its moral compass, it would be a sadder day if that compass were not to be reset. Thank goodness that Phorm and BT, etc., will be prevented from riding roughshod over our legal rights to privacy, and our attempts to protect those rights.

  54. Anderw Guard

    Rapist defence

    "The ICO accepted BT's argument that it would have been hard to explain Phorm's interception and profiling system to internet users whose communications it was being tested on."

    I love that. That look at that defence else where.

    My Plod: Why did you not get consent for doing that to her?

    Rapist: It would be hard to explain what wanted to do and get consent for it. So I just like made love to her when she was asleep.

    My Plod: Ow that why you did it, that is fine then.


  55. Dave Bell

    Intentional vs. unintentional

    This sounds like a bit of legislative boilerplate, going back a long way. The old "crossed line" in telephone exchanges is an unintentional interception of communications. Taking your VHF receiver and twiddling the knob until you pick up the police radios, that's intentional.

    The tech has changed.

    But what if Anne and Brenda are using IP addresses to exchange email (A DNS problem?), and Brenda's ADSL line goes down? Cathy connects, and gets Brenda's old IP address. Yes, I know that's contrived.

    I'd rather have that explicitly in the law than rely on a politician telling me, "yes, that's illegal, but nobody would prosecute."

  56. Damien Thorn


    In the first post tim said that bt had explained it would be difficult to explain what phorm was to customers, and this was told to the ICO - and the ico accepted that?

    What am i paying the ico for then? what do they do with my 35 quid and everyone elses.

    Anyhow that aside - did bt actually mean it would be difficult to explain the concept or difficult to explain the concept and have any sane person actually agree?

  57. Jonathan


    As Ad Fundum says, perhaps you are a Phorm stooge, since you ignore the most pressing issues with regards to Phorm.

    They are:

    1. That BT and Phorm conducted two or more illegal trials back in 2006/2007. Interception without consent is a crime, and no consent was obtained. This has nothing to do with any Phorm system currently in operation, it has to do with actions taken by BT in those illegal trials. Thats why they are on trial, not because of currently deployed Phorm system.

    2. Since current privacy laws require consent from both parties for interception to be legal, one can assume that websites must also give consent. Also, consent must by law be opt-in and not opt-out, which Phorm doesnt adequately cater for either in the case of intercepting user's data or website's data.

  58. Midnight_Voice

    No Mistake at All

    @Dervla - please tell me this is a joke on your part?

    But in case it's not::

    (i) Phorm has been tested three times by BT; twice illegally by stealth and once openly. But in any case, if the authorities have reason to believe that someone or some body is proposing to commit an illegal act or acts, then they can and must act to forestall it. This is the case here.

    (ii) You forget the websites. A user may give permission to Phorm to read what he/she types in on the internet, but no user can give unilateral permission for Phorm to intercept the response from my website. And given that Phorm will use what it reads to, in effect, alert any of my competitors who use Phorm's OIX ad-serving system and try to wrench sales away from me, I don't *want* Phorm intercepting my responses. It's a very real privacy issue for me.

    (iii) As it happens, we know *exactly* how Phorm is/was planned to be implemented. The details going forward may be done a little differently, but UK and EU law remain crystal clear on what is and what is not permitted. And currently, Phorm, rather than accepting those laws and trying to work within them, is in denial that they even apply to it.

    Kent has suggested that us calling Phorm 'illegal' is 'emotive'. Which is very odd, as I doubt that he would regard the advice he purports to have sought as to Phorm's legality as 'emotive'.

    Rather, he would think it an objective view; as indeed, is the FIPR's chapter-and-verse statement of the opposite view. IANAL, but their guy is.

    But as I said above, we already have the laws we need; just not, apparently the will amongst the powers that be to enforce them. But if our new ally Viviene can administer the appropriate kick in the privates, perhaps they will learn that they should not expose themselves to this charge.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK bows to EU?

    Being just an observer from across the pond, it seems the UK is becomming subservient to the EU. Did all the EU countries give up their independence?

    That is no better than the UN telling the rest of the world what to do, and you can't boot them out either.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Richard! What ARE you doing??!'

    'Nothing, Jacqui - er, it's difficult to explain - you wouldn't understand...'

    'Oh, that's all right then. Not as if we're paying for it anyway.'

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Dervla

    The word isn't 'antis'. It's 'haters'. Ask Kent, your boss.

    Can't even astroturf properly.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it really that big a deal?

    Yes Mr Brown it is...... the fact that ISP's will use this technology to monitor the websites I visit and then target me with adverts is tantamount to ethnic cleansing and mass rape. What next? Mr Brown and his henchmen killing all first born males in all households...... I will not stand by idly and let this happen.... Im going to write a stern letter to my MP....

  63. DR

    @So sad that we have to rely on Brussels to protect us

    I don't know what to think...

    In one sense, thank you to our EU overlords at Brussels for actually saying that the law is the law and needs to be followed. they are protecting us at a time when our police and government failed to do so...

    on the other hands, who will the fines impact? certainly not the people who carried out the crimes, the government will be fined and the tax payer will foot the bill, yet again the tax payer will be paying for the acts of big businesses trying to get a bit more money... so that's hardly protecting us is it?

    As far as I can see the only good that will come of this is that *finally*the government and police *might* wake up and deal with their own law breakers, though the stark reality is probably that they won't, they can continue to snooze on the job now knowing that someone else will do all the law enforcing bits and they don't have to worry.

  64. Wabberjocky


    "Being just an observer from across the pond, it seems the UK is becomming subservient to the EU. "

    Yes, we discovered it's probably better than being subservient to the US. We couldn't boot Bush out, either.

  65. Anonymous Coward


    If you want privacy....... stay the fuck of the internet !!!

  66. Simon Ball

    @UK bows to EU

    Strictly speaking, the answer is yes, we did give up our independence. As long as we remain in the EU, under current treaties, EU law has primacy over national law. Not that we can't withdraw, but that's the nuclear option.

    Then again, I might argue that exactly the same thing happened to the US - worse in fact. In theory, the US is supposed to be a voluntary union of sovereign states. In practise, it stopped being that after the Union won the Civil War.

    But if you really want to understand the EU, you have to remember that from the perspective of many Europeans, the institution of the individual sovereign nation-state did not emerge from WWII smelling of roses. The first half of the 20th century can be argued to be a direct result of the unbridled exercise of national sovereignty, so you can understand why, after two devastating wars, some Europeans are passionate about not allowing individual nations to do whatever they want ever again.

  67. MinionZero

    Shows how bad its got. We need protection from our own government!

    Its a shocking indictment to see how bad the UK has sunk. Dragged down by the very people in the UK government who should have been helping the UK. We now need legal action against our own utterly corrupt government to protect us from them and their rich friends in business who want to so mercilessly exploit us all.

    In addition to the shocking depth of the Big Brother goals of Phorm, one of the most disturbing new things about Phorm is the fact that Phorm now have a once high up ex-MP as chairman (who also has political friends). It shows that Phorm wants to work with politicians. So what do the politicians get in return?. Phorm style technology is a major step towards Big Brother. 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 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.

    The government inaction against Phorm after so many people's protests against Phorm, shows the government doesn't want to act against Phorm.

    I feel utterly betrayed by the most corrupt government I've ever seen. After so many examples, the shocking depth of corruption of NuLabour is getting way beyond tolerable.

    NuLabour need to go and they need to go now. How many more examples of self righteous corruption and lack of empathy from NuLabour are we to endure.

  68. Anonymous Coward

    Bang to rights!

    Drag them off in chains! They have absolutely no conception of personal freedom - personally I blame the civil servants who are so used to riding roughshod over our data, but their political masters need to shoulder the blame too.

    It is time the surveillance society was brought to heel, and proper privacy laws were enacted to protect ordinary citizens - the rich can look after themselves.

    I'll get my coat because my IP address will be tracked and I will be hunted down as a dissenter...

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @g e

    Erf. So you use Adblock+ as an excuse for your xenophobia? Pathetic.

    By not standing up for what you believe in, fighting for what you think is right, nor making your your voice heard and simply running away to another country (which may or may not have a more benign regime); I put it to you that your are part of what is wrong with the UK today.

    You will not the *lack* of a joke icon.

  70. Anonymous Coward

    I dispute Mr. Kent Ertugrul's assertion that BERR approved Phorm because..

    I have in my possession a letter from a BERR official who after months of correspondence with me sent me the letter which states ' it is not BERR's responsibility to be satisfied or not with Phorm'

    So who's telling porkies Mr. Ertugrul BERR did not approve Phorm neither did the Home Office

    evasion, misdirection, half truths,spin etc etc etc.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Simple Solution to the Phorm problem.

    If I can see even one visit to my site from a BT address during the time that they were trialling Phorm, can I sue them for illegally intercepting communications, right?

    So Google and the other big boys of "on-line targeted ads" can almost certainly sue.

    I wonder why they haven't done it already.

    If any of the big boys get upset then Phorm are fucked.

    Don't write to your MP or MEP, just write to MSN, Google, Yahoo...

  72. Anonymous Coward

    We used to rely on the power of the press to save us from this...

    It comes to something when the liberties of UK subjects (not citizens by the way, but that's another story) are protected by the EC, while the mainstream press, the so called third estate, stood by and virtually ignored the whole affair.

    Could it have something to do with BT's substantial advertising budget...

    Thank you EC, and well done the reg for keeping this one on the radar

  73. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Target Practice..... ..


    It's the Labour Party you would need to be suing and not the British Government, for it is they, the former, who are responsible for any failing in the time frame shared. But pursuing an idiot will win you no friends and nothing can be won in such a futile exercise of a Self Serving Regional Quango Power in a National Domain. And methinks that Drunk with the Delusion of Power aptly describes the Phishing trip ..... although the EU has a History of such Phorm and thus is it no great Surprise .

  74. Kieron McCann

    V for...


  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can agree that UK shouldn't be subservient to US, I would say that the UK has historically been pretty much the only allie that we could count on. (whether both agree or disagree with each other) and I think the past also shows it works the other way also (Falklans).

    For Simon Ball (I almost said something similar, like you need your war of states rights, but we know how that worked).

  76. Dave Harris
    Thumb Down


    Just to add to the above, any clause contract that has opt in as a mandatory condition would likely fall foul of the fair conditions provisions and precedents in English and Welsh Tort law.

    Do your homework next time.

    BTW, I hope you're wearing trackie-bottoms, that astroturf can be nasty when you get tackled

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Where's the tinfoil...

    Little bird told me Phorm was just a cover for MI5/6 to be able to spy on British citizens, so dont expect much from Gordie Brown, its all to protect you...

  78. Skyraker
    Thumb Up


    BT Webwise increases your protection against online fraud and makes ads that appear on participating websites more relevant to your interests. It's completely free for BT Total Broadband customers and you don't have to download or install any software for it to work.

    BT Webwise automatically adds an additional layer of protection against online fraud by checking the sites you visit against a list of suspected fraudulent and untrustworthy websites. When you attempt to visit any website on the list, you'll see a warning, so you can choose whether or not to visit it. It's another way BT is helping to protect you online.

    BT Webwise also personalises the online advertising you see when browsing on participating websites by linking ads to your interests. For example, if you search for a weekend trip to Paris or visit pages related to Paris, BT Webwise would replace the standard ads that would normally appear with advertising relating to travel or hotels information. You won't see any more adverts than you normally do - they'll simply be more relevant.

  79. P. Lee

    The difference between fining BT and the govt

    If BT pay, their costs and charges go up so people might consider using someone-else instead - a good outcome.

    If the government pays, we all pay. Short of moving abroad there's not much that can be done about that.

    Sadly, I suspect this will be a " didn't make the rules clear and gets a fine," rather than looking directly at Phorm. If phorm haven't been prosecuted by now, I doubt they will ever be for crimes in the past. Lets face it, this sort of monitoring is precisely what nulab would love to have in place for its own benefit.

    You could also encourage everyone you meet to move to a non-phorm isp. Come on Zen, how about a a short tv campaign about how you don't snoop on your customers!

    Just because the EU got it right on this one, doesn't mean its a good idea to move power away from the UK. We need to punish the government ourselves, not rely on the french and germans to do it for us.

  80. Alexander Hanff

    NoDPI's Response to today's news

    Obviously we are in high spirits, read the response here:

    Alexander Hanff

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I dispute Mr. Kent Ertugrul's assertion that BERR approved Phorm because..

    @ MinionZero

    Seconded. They are beneath contempt

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So who fault is it at BT?

    A company like BT was once reputable. For BT to have infringed the privacy of thousands of innocent victims in the manner in which it did requires a great deal of planning within BT itself.

    Who is responsible and who allowed this outrage?

  83. SilverWave

    Die Phorm Die!

    Good news from the EU tbh sometimes I feel they are the only group not asleep at the wheel.

    Oh an before I go....

    So no BT trial eh ... oh that must smart :)

    Hmmm in a recession and no more easy money for Phorm.

    Also the usa has put a block of this dpi interception idea.

    Now the EU is doing the same.

    The Begining of the End.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry Kent you got it wrong again with your statement ....

    "our system offers un-missable notice and clear and persistent choice to consumers."

    Not good enough. Should be an OPT IN . The law says an opt in not an unmissable notice. Must try harder to stop spinning things, it's getting to be a habit isn't it?

    two little words OPT IN

    hows the money holding up?

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    121Meda Cookie was downloaded from homepage and web mail

    The profiling was aimed at collecting personal information regarding bank accounts and job titles, basically the sort of information about you people would buy. The data 121Media collected has "disappeared" we only know it was not destroyed and guess what, BT claim to have no idea who was profiled or where the data went.

    This sound like unplausable deniability to me, especially when consider that 121Media were already known to the antivirus world as unscupulous malware authors and I believe under criminal investigation by the US authorities at the time of these "Trials"

  86. John Smith Gold badge


    "If you want privacy....... stay the fuck of the internet !!!"

    Good day Mr Ertugrul. So glad you could join us. I'm sure the level of debate about your company's product will now rise substantially. Never send a stooge to do the CEO's bidding I say.

    And I see you've made your first statement. What a finely crafted piece of prose it is. Marred only by the minor detail that I think you mean "off." Spell check <> proof read.

    I'll be hanging on every one of your future utterances. TTFN.

  87. VulcanV5
    Paris Hilton

    @ Dervia

    Hiya, Norman. You know, you were just so-oo much better, singing in your bath-tub, or presiding over the UK economy's collapse, than you are at coming on here in disguise.

    With a track record like yours, of course, it's no wonder the only commercial enterprise prepared to hire you is Phorm Inc. But that doesn't mean anyone here has to take any notice of your ramblings.

    PS: 'Dervia' -- was that the name of a certain person you reportedly had difficulties with, evicting from one of your properties?

    ** Paris. Because unlike the British Government, she doesn't roll over for BT. **

  88. asdf
    Thumb Down

    get new labour the f__k out of gov

    Damn even over here in the states the sheep finally woke up and kicked the Republicans to the curb. Are Brits really so damn indifferent? Lol guess it just goes to show the end for V is for vendetta is all wrong. The Brits would never have left the pubs to put on the costumes and rebel. Way to much work and would cut in on their drinking and tele watching time.

  89. RW

    @ Simon Ball

    "In theory, the US is supposed to be a voluntary union of sovereign states. In practise, it stopped being that after the Union won the Civil War."

    It stopped being that a lot earlier. Are you not aware that the present Constitution of the US is "USA 2.0", having been preceded by the Articles of Confederation?

    The Articles of Confederation are now a footnote in the history books, but they were replaced by the present Constitution for a very good reason: they didn't work; they left too much power in the hands of the states and too little in the hands of the national government.

    Yes, 'tis true that the Civil War put an end to talk of states seceding and established by force the principle that once you're in, you're in for good and no backing out.

    Notice that Puerto Rico remains an independent commonwealth associated closely with the US, but is not a state thereof. Thus Puerto Rico periodically has votes on breaking the link, or strengthening it via statehood, or leaving things alone; and so far the Puerto Ricans have chosen to simply leave things alone as it gives them most of the advantages of statehood while retaining a degree of independence.

  90. Anonymous Coward

    Time to get rid

    of this government who does nothing to protect its citizens from corporate greed.

    I am a lifelong Labour supporter, sorry, I WAS a lifelong Labour supporter, but this is just another example of how they are trying to turn this country into a state that is run by corporations for profit at the expense of the civil liberties of its people.

  91. 7mark7
    Thumb Up

    The BBC World Service no less.

    Well done Chris Williams. How many millions does Newshour go out to?

    Hope they all visit The Register now.

  92. Anonymous Coward

    Just got back from the pub!

    And it looks like this country has already been sold down the river, like the USA, by a bunch of money-grabbing bastards and their politico friends......We're all doomed I tell you, doomed

  93. Watashi

    Breaking the law

    BT's use of Phorm technology without notifying customers is in a legal quantum state of indeterminacy. Until a court of law has tested BT's actions against the regulations, it is impossible to say whether they broke the law or not (hence their claim of innocence). However, the EU regulations SHOULD have required BT and Phorm to justify their behaviour in court (which they probably would have failed to do) - but because the UK did such a p*sspoor job of implementing the regulations this didn't happen. Basically, the EU is accusing the UK of failing to protect EU citizens living in its territory.

    So, the EU is going to test the UK's interpretation of the EU regulations in the EU courts. If the EU wins and shows that the UK laws are not tight enough, then the UK will have to change its laws so that any future Phorm implementation can be challanged in court by BT customers. The likely result is that BT will have to ask customers to "opt in" to Phorm, which would significantly reduce the value of Phorm and similar technologies to BT and other UK ISPs. It may be that even an "opt in" is not good enough as some users of an ISP may not be in a position to give consent (eg, someone using a shared broadband connection), in which case Phorm is dead in the water. If the EU wins and the UK still continues to allow Phorm to carry on as it currently is, the EU will impose fines on the UK, which we, the taxpayer, will have to pay.

    It's also worth pointing out that whilst the EU is currently requiring specific details of internet use to be kept on record for a year, this action will probably make it impossible for the UK to use ISPs as a privately run spying network. At the moment, the government requires specific laws to be passed to force ISPs to monitor for certain internet activity, but Phorm technology would allow ISPs to passively 'become aware' of 'illegal' activities without having to go out and look for them. Because it's currently assumed that signing up to an ISP gives the ISP tacit approval to look at whatever it is you're doing on line, the moment a possible crime has been 'accidentally' detected the police can be brought in. Phorm would be an easy way for the police to get at your surfing history without needing any kind of court order to do so. It now looks like the EU will not allow this to happen.

  94. Andrew

    El Reg

    Props to for having promoted this issue in its pages and to its readers for keeping the flames hot. Elsewhere we are told that proper journalism and the net are considered inimicable. Yet this issue may eventually be resolved so that the interest of democracy shall prevail against those of private interests. In no small part thanks to persistent lobbying online from citizens and professionals.

  95. Danny Thompson

    there was "implied consent"

    Is the UK, its Gov and assorted agencies now run by Pikeys? That is exactly the excuse they give when they nick your car/motorcycle/bike/lawnmower/LCD TV.

    You cannot have "implied consent", there is no such thing. Consent is "given" it cannot be implied because you cannot in any sense reasonably know the attitude of mind of the person you are implying the consent from.


    1. To give assent, as to the proposal of another; agree.

    2. Archaic To be of the same mind or opinion.

    3. Acceptance or approval of what is planned or done by another; acquiescence.

    4. Agreement as to opinion or a course of action:

    Unless we're now into redefining the entire English language the simple fact is that "consent" cannot be "implied". It has to be "given" or "accepted" or "agreed" which requires a specific and intentional action on the behalf of the consentee.

    Time for criminal proceedings against BT at the very least. I would also like to see UK Government ministers and agency heads also censured by the EU and also fined.

    Come the next general election if this nation is stupid enough to re-elect this bunch of Labour idiots we will thoroughly deserve all that we get over the remaining period of dismantling of democracy.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    is an astroturfer talking like the Phorm marketing department. Again........ fed up of wiki fiddling ?

    It isn't about protection it is about selling your web usage to advertising companies and any one else that can afford to pay Phorms fees. I would suggest letting someone else find out exactly how many penis pill touts and malware/bogus av/security vendors will be able to afford their charges.

  97. Anonymous Coward

    Prosecute the people involved!

    Surely it's not unusual that companies cannot be prosecuted for most types of criminal activity (typically companies can only be charged under business related laws eg. making false statements to the market). However people who plan and carry out a crime (even if it is sponsored by a company or an organization) can be prosecuted individually.

    So just because an organization can't be prosecuted doesn't preclude all the individuals involved in this case from being prosecuted (the techies for the illegal interception and their bosses for conspiracy)! This would wrap up everyone involved from both BT and Phorm.

    It would also send a very clear message to company bosses and their employees (remember "I was just following orders" is not a valid excuse for breaking the law - nor is ignorance of the law).

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Your comany is like a stream of bat's piss....

    ....all warm and golden at first but in reality wet and smelly!

    phuck off phorm!

  99. Tony Paulazzo

    And BTs response?

    on the BBC website...

    >BT declined to comment on the EC's actions.<

    Way to hold your head up. BT needs to kill this PR catastrophe now - much as Virgin and CW are frantically back-pedalling.

    Score 1 for democracy, finally.

  100. Stephen Jenner

    What's good for the goose...

    Many commenters seem to think that the EC is the good guy here...

    What they are really saying though is that the EU wants the monopoly on data retention and mining of ALL users browsing and online comms. Under the EU Data Retention Directive 2006, the EU obliges the UK to collect this data for their client, the UK government, to do whatever it wants with. The UK government is merely privatising this practise. The UK government and the EU are already sticking their big nose in where it is NOT wanted, the only difference being that the EU is not getting a cut from Phorm's activities, The UK government will tax Phorm's profits, so the EU is either going to make sure it is stopped, or at least get a piece of the pie.

    This is normal practise for the EU, it issues a directive or regulation, and when the UK government enacts it (plus the usual gold-plating), the EC comes flying in to make sure that it looks like the saviour of ordinary folk, as opposed to the anti-democratic beast that initiated the whole process in the first place.

    Pirate, because that is what the EU/EC/UK government is.

  101. Bobby
    Thumb Down


    I cannot believe the arrogance of this Phorm...

  102. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Stepping up to the Mark

    Re: AC@15:02 and Where's the tinfoil... [AC Posted Tuesday 14th April 2009 16:50 GMT]

    ""If you want privacy....... stay the fuck of the internet !!!"

    Good day Mr Ertugrul. So glad you could join us. I'm sure the level of debate about your company's product will now rise substantially. Never send a stooge to do the CEO's bidding I say.

    And I see you've made your first statement. What a finely crafted piece of prose it is. Marred only by the minor detail that I think you mean "off." Spell check <> proof read.

    I'll be hanging on every one of your future utterances. TTFN." .... By John Smith Posted Tuesday 14th April 2009 19:04 GMT

    Notwithstanding the typo, it is nevertheless, sound sterling advice, John, and delivered in appropriately unambiguous terms should tinfoil hats' suspicions be cruising/patrolling/provisioning aka Servering the Novel Environment of Virtually IntelAIgent Sources ...... which would then be QuITe Typically and TopIQally, Black Watch Territory v2.0.

    Although the Absurd Failure to make any Definitive Constructive Mark in a Catastrophically Dire Economic Climate is an Interesting Stealth Facility. with such an Ambiguity as to Defeat any Regular Intelligence Logic and thus Render the Real Possibility and Virtual Probability that such tinfoil hat suspicions are unfounded and unworthy and MI5/MI6 are both Definitely Lacking and/or Missing/Missing in Action/Captured and/or Petrified in Inaction in the Field. But such Speculations are always Part and Parcel of SUch Stupid Stock in Trade Intelligence Games lacking Clear Goals and Valiant Leadership .... NeuReal Ideas.

    However, No 10 are on the Ball with those .... Apparently. Well, that is what we are being told anyway by Mainstream Media and Government Ministerial Puppets, are we not. Given their most recent Web Offering/Special Advisor Sacrifice, it doesn't bode well, does it ?

  103. The Jase

    implied consent

    "You cannot have "implied consent", there is no such thing"

    There is no law allowing clamping of vehicles on private property. However if you park there and its clearly signposted "any anauthorised vehicles will be clamped. Release fee: £100"

    your consent to the terms and conditions is implied (ie, that they can clamp you). Hence implied consent.

    With the Phorm trails, there was no implied consent.

  104. Alex

    I was approached by a senior member of BT at the birth of this greed fueled idiocy...

    as I told Mr I.D. of BT at the start of all this:

    "I would step away from this it'll ether make someone else very rich or land people in prison for the largest breach of privacy ever recorded"


    "the concept of a third party manipulating your internet feed goes against what the Internet is about, the thought of someone "editing" my web browsing is not a good one, have you ever tried to watch Sky? too many adverts"

    and I asked:

    "what about this part (RIPA) where BT has a right to monitor the communications of its customers to provide a service, could that be deemed consent?"

    he replied:

    "no that is purely there for the engineers on the street to test the lines, otherwise they'd need gov permission to tap into every phone line on the exchange just to find one fault, BT used to be a gov department and although we still have very close ties we can't be seen to abuse that"

    Interestingly a couple of months ago I tracked down my old colleague Mr I.D. and tried to talk to him about this, lets just say he was "a bit busy".

    All of the above is true, I've no reason to lie, I was asked to give an honest assumption of what is now BT's biggest hot potato, I gave it. Just a shame they didn't listen eh?

    seems there was no such thing as a "smart place" in BT after all.

    Nevermind as it looks like chichens are all coming home to roost now.

  105. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Changing ISPs

    "You could also encourage everyone you meet to move to a non-phorm isp. Come on Zen, how about a a short tv campaign about how you don't snoop on your customers!"

    When Tiscali defaulted recently, I moved ISP. I considered Zen, based on the positive comments here, but whilst their customer service chap was polite and helpful, it appears that Zen don't actually have a position on Phorm. They haven't, for example, signed up to the anti-phorm league's "never" declaration ( I went with one that had.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    According to the BBC Amazon have told Phorm to Phuck Off.

    We need other big companies to tell them to do the same, social networking sites, on-line retailers etc.

    I hope that El Reg have told Phorm to shove their scraping of El Reg where the sun don't shine?

  107. psychochief

    the domino effect yippeeeeeeeee :O)

    here we go hot off the press, Amazon tells phorm to stick it !!!!! :- the dominos are starting to fall !!!!!! :O)

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    This story in Wednesday's London 'Metro'

    ... on page 7. The paper edition.

    That means that ordinary non-geek London commuters whose regular internet experience may go no further than Facebook, MySpace and pictures of the Pope shagging the Queen with David Brent's face pasted on to it forwarded to them by work colleagues, are now aware of what Phorm is and what it has been trying to get away with.

    The free papers don't usually bother with stories like this. They have this time. This is is very good news.

  109. stjohnswell

    phorm over phunction

    "The ICO accepted BT's argument that it would have been hard to explain Phorm's interception and profiling system to internet users whose communications it was being tested on."

    Just like it's okay to steal someones car if they cannot explain the workings of the internal combustion engine.

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Dont hold your breath

    We already have an ECHR judgement on DNA retention thats being ignored does anyone really think the nu labour stasi are going to roll over and give up the biggest free source of internet profiling data it will be able to get its hands on?

    Old Wacky J thinks Phorm will help the fight on terrorism as it will be able to offer up "targeted advertising" based on your browsing so when Mr Jihadist starts browsing extreme websites he will get targetted ads for Fertiliser, diesel, nails, peas, wire, sheet steel and glass jars and much like in Wallace and Gromit big red lights will flash at the home office and they will rush out and arrest him/her or offer them a brazilian.

    I wonder if she will be so happy when she's browsing at home and gets offered but plugs, adult nappies, leather trousers and a moustache clipper on her "targeted ads" ?

    Paris, what would her targeted ads be?

  111. Andy Watt
    Thumb Up

    As I predicted... Phorm will not be financially viable.

    The writing is on the wall for Phorm -

    due to finiancial pressures brought about by public mistrust and hatred of the whole snooping idea, Phorm WILL die on its' arse.

    I've been putting this theory forward in a couple of places around el reg - I hope to see it come to fruition.

    I'm sure the investors are clearing out even as we speak. Encourage them to do so!!!!

  112. Winkypop Silver badge

    I like my phorm......

    ....slowly roasted over a flaming pit.

  113. Secretgeek
    Thumb Up

    Another related update.

    Don't know if this is elsewhere on the Reg but Amazon have announced that they're not going to allow Phorm to scan their pages.

    Big up for Amazon there I think and here's hoping a few other major players see sense too.

  114. Anonymous Coward

    Mrs Smith

    Wonder if Jaqui Smiths home PC's browsing habits are being monitered!!! Her husband might have some more explaining to do

  115. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    perverse logic


    "This has been confirmed by BERR and by the UK regulatory authorities and we note that there is no suggestion to the contrary in the Commission's statement today."

    Oh I get it, the fact the EU commission hasn't remarked on it means they support it!

    Great logic. A desparate attempt to convince people there's nothing wrong with what they are doing.

    Perhaps they haven't commented on it because it's outside the scope of the statement!

  116. Damien Thorn

    re updates from phorm

    Phorm say it complies with uk law, well it does - brussels wants to change it.

    Its hard not to post an obscene answer to that.

    Firstly I would not want any isp to send my details to a third party, I would not want any visitors to my website making money from my work and not giving me a share of it.

    Phorm say its secure - if it was legal i would show you a 0 day exploit, of such a nature you would think your on your bank but realise it wasnt as you were seeing "the register" (without breaking another stupid law) it takes advantage of the system because bt and phorm are not the website, and it has to pass data as if it was, its that passing data that can with the aid of nothing more than 5 lines of php be used for nefarious purposes. IE phishing.

    If you want to prove it, read how phorm works, read how your browser works, and read how data arrives at your pc, then work out what would happen if say your isp aided the data a little. then you will know instantly which 5 lines of php code do that!

    Clue: (what session am i?) (what other cookies do you have) set_ini..... oh no now thats a problem.

  117. Mike Crawshaw

    @ Norman Andrews, 10:11

    "This story in Wednesday's London 'Metro'"

    Not just London, I just peeked at one in Sheffield, and the article's here too. Hopefully some of the people whose normal interest in the internet is to google images "porn" for a quick hand shandy will start to pay attention....

  118. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Phorm in the Dragon's Den

    Amazon are, I'm sure, the first of many.

    Why would any online retailer want Phorm to scan it's pages? You go to the trouble of attracting people to your site to buy things and then Phorm scans the pages they are browsing and hits them with adverts for the competition. Webwise is totally incompatible with online commerce. Imagine Asda putting up adverts inside your local Morrisons and not even paying for the privilege.

    As far as I can see Phorm do not plan to pay anything to the owners of the pages it scans, so why would any website owner want them scanning their pages?

    It seems the only people who will benefit from Phorm's business model are Phorm themselves, the ISPs using the service and the paying advertisers. So there is no reason why any website owner would want Phorm to scan it's pages, and this would include the advertisers since they wouldn't want Phorm advertising the competition.

    It's a totally unworkable business model and for that reason I'm out.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tony Paulazzo - Way off topic

    "Score 1 for democracy, finally."

    Out of interest where does democracy come into this?

    The EC are the ones taking action against our government, our government are democratically elected the EC are not. So I'm affraid it's Score 1 AGAINST parliamentary democracy.

    Gordo has an interesting attitude to politicians appointed rather than elected to posts. He likes the EC when it's on his side and thinks he can ignore it when it isn't. He doesn't like the control the house of lords has, but OTOH like to stuff his cabinet with unelected lords.

    As more and more elected members fall out with the PM he will appoint more and more labour appointed lords to his cabinet until we have a postion where the only elected member in the cabinet is the prime minister and nobody elected him to that position. I'm so glad this is a democratic nation. Oh... hang on.

  120. Ivan Headache

    Front page of today's Independent too

    That is if any one reads it.

  121. John Smith Gold badge


    "It seems the only people who will benefit from Phorm's business model are Phorm themselves, the ISPs using the service and the paying advertisers."


    AFAIK Phorm's target customers are all the *other* online book stores who would want a slice of Amazon's business. Amazon seems to have a pretty big slice of the on-line buying business, not just in books.

    Phorm *can* be sold (with my Marketing hat on) as a tool to level the internet playing field with the big boys in e-commerce. NB Do *not* read that last sentence as approval.

    The impression I get of Phorm is they think "Year, we'll steal their business and they cannot retaliate. Besides, it's not us, it's the ISP's we license to." They seem to forget that big players can hire big lawyers and good techs. If Amazon feel threatened they will find a way to make being one of the Phorm gang a very expensive proposition.

    A word to any AC's who might protest my use of the word "gang." Lets see Russian offices (sited in the capital for malware authorship and phishing and CP site hosting ?), history of malware as 121 media, forged ID cookies, claims of code inserted into pages returned from non affiliated websites (is that for real?). A number of people working together to carry out organised criminal activity. That's a conspiracy is it not? I don't think we have a UK version of the RICO statutes but we can recover assets acquired as the result of criminal activity.

    I'm off to take a long hot shower now. Just that superficial defending of Phorm's business model has made me feel quite dirty.

  122. Andy Watt
    Thumb Up

    Phorm "fights back"? nyah nyah nyah

    Phorm are trying to fight back but apparently their stroppy-sounding site is not winning them any plaudits -

    "The decision to publish this site feels to me like a sign that Phorm is dying, and this is one of its final throes." (quote from the guardian article)

    This is truly a victory for people power. Let's keep it up and "smear" these bastards into a greasy stain - and any others who seek to try to use the same technology. It's not smearing; if the public does not want something then they DO NOT WANT IT - and you cannot blind them with science in an attempt to foist the tech on them.

    Recent revelations through FOI regarding Phorm's collusion with the home office over the legislation for behavioural advertising show the government simply can't be trusted to know what this technology is about - we, the tech-literati people MUST keep dogging Phorm and their ilk out of existence.

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