back to article UK gets final warning over Phorm trials

The UK government today came a step closer to international embarrassment over its failure to act against BT and Phorm for their secret trials of mass internet snooping technology. The European Commission said it had moved to the second stage of infringement proceedings after the trials, revealed by The Register, exposed …


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  1. Alexander Hanff 1

    Counting the days

    I don't see how the UK Gov can actually fulfill the requirements of the Commission within the specified time limit. This means it is likely that the UK Public will foot the bill (huge fines) for the complete lack of action by the UK Government on this issue.

    I submitted my case to the CPS over 12 months ago after writing to the Director of Public Prosecutions to seek action after City of London Police failed to act on the criminal complaint I made against BT and Phorm for their covert trials - still the case is "under investigation".

    Maybe now the CPS will see the wisdom in prosecuting BT and Phorm for their illegal activities.

    It is a shame that the tax payer will foot the bill, but it is a relief to see that the EU is protecting our rights to privacy where our national laws won't.

  2. RyokuMas


    One hand sues for privacy infringement, the other tries to force DRM on us.


  3. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Good good

    The only issue I would have is that those 'massive daily fines' should be levied on those responsible, not the government in general. That way, it punishes the politicians and not the taxpayer, otherwise to them it is just another externality as they continue to strip the country's assets for themselves.

  4. seanj

    An empty threat...

    "...the case will be referred to the European Court of Justice, which has powers to impose massive daily fines on governments who do not meet their legal obligations."

    1) We already pay "massive daily fines" to the EU in the form of those member fees, or whatever we're spinning them as nowadays...

    2) Any fine on our government is a fine on the electorate, most of whom can't wait to see the back of this scum anyway....

    3) It's not like this government would care if you fined them - they'd just take more from the electorate in taxes to make up for it, since they know they're going to get a UK-sized boot broken off deep in their collective NuLabour arsehole in June anyway... Just don't force them to stop stealing from us in the meantime, and you can impose any fines you want.

  5. Jonathan 17


    What will happen if the UK changes its law but doesnt prosecute ICO/the police for not prosecuting and/or investigating Phorm? Will BT and Phorm get off scot free?

  6. Adam Salisbury

    Daily Fines

    Levied against specific members of Gov't please, preferably anyone with a hand in this most bent and corrupt affair. Tear apart and sell BT while you're at it too!

  7. Winkypop Silver badge


    ...welcome home.

    Your roost is just over here...

  8. Chronos

    @Jonathan 17

    With an ex cabinet minister on the board? Of course they will. You scratch my back, I'll flip you the bird behind yours...

  9. Stephen 11


    "Finally, RIPA's sanctions against interception only cover "intentional" snooping. The Directive does not allow for such a distinction."

    Surely what Phorm does qualifies as "intentional snooping"

  10. Xpositor

    Conflict with anti-piracy legislation?

    If one side of government is pushing to have snooping on our traffic made de-facto, in the name of anti-privacy, how will that co-exist with this legislation?

    @RegisterFail - you're correct, this is exactly why we need Europe - in this instance. You might be arguing the opposite if HMG were resisting deep packet inspection of ALL traffic to benefit private enterprises and it got foisted on us by Europe.

  11. noboard

    Oh Mandy, you came and you...

    Do your worst Europe. We have Captain Mandy who will introduce new laws that will dispense with the need for the law courts and hand over our privacy issues to trustworthy companies like phorm.

    Oh glorious Mandy, thank you for saving us from ourselves.

    Spoil your ballet paper on election day. It's the only way to ensure none of the incompetent idiots get in.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The chap who was

    The chap who was Chief Techy at BT Retail at the time of the denied trials. He left BT didn't he?

    Oh yeah, he went to be Chief Techy at Phorm. Stratis Scleparis was the name.

    He's left Phorm now too:

    Will he now need to worry about an early morning knock on the door from PC Plod, or about getting his face printed on a police "spotter card", or his name on a police list of untrustworthy "domestic extremists"?

    Or do the police not apply that kind of tactic to "professional" people (directors, honourable members, banksters, pension thieves, etc)?

  13. Dave Ross
    Thumb Down

    Want to take bets on...

    whether the government will manage to slime their way out of this one?

  14. N2

    Yes but,

    The government allowed it because they dont give a shit about privacy & dont really understand whats at stake, particularly as some may be seen as rocking the boat for the rights of their constituents.

    BT implemented it because they dont give a toss about their customers so long as they pay their bills & make a profit, so there was plenty of carrot for them as well has having one of their ex chums on the board.

    The real culprits that should be fined is the company responsible for actually doing it, the scum bags from BT & Phorm. Regrettably it wont happen, but were the EU to fine them (hopefully) out of existence then it would discourage others from conducting secret trials with what is our private data.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Phorm and BT...

    should be facing massive fines over this not us.

    Complete failure by the UK gov.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Digital privacy

    Viviane Reding said: "Ensuring digital privacy is a key for building trust in the internet."

    Nice statement, can this also be applied to P2P IP data.


  17. Soruk

    Fine the ministers responsible

    The EU shouldn't fine the government, since that means the taxpayer has to foot the bill. Instead the ministers responsible for this should be forced to take responsibility for their own actions and pay the fines themselves. Or even better, raise criminal charges against them.

  18. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    All your sleazy secrets belong to us, Ms Reding ...... Get used to it, the NeuReal Transparency.

    "Today, telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "Ensuring digital privacy is a key for building trust in the internet. I therefore call on the UK authorities to change their national laws to ensure that British citizens fully benefit from the safeguards set out in EU law concerning confidentiality of electronic communications.""

    If Viviane thinks for one moment that electronic communications are confidential or will remain unknown, with so many in governments involved in snooping on the packets of information which are being sent over the internet, trying to gain a remote advantage in whatever they would be pursuing themselves, then she is poorly and negligently briefed.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Another reason to vote SNP!

  20. Graham Bartlett


    "Exactly why we need EU"...

    Because heaven knows, other politicians in the EU wouldn't waste £221k on installing a shower for a single event (which was never used anyway), £300k for a podium, £90k for a carpet... Err...

    And of course, the EU wouldn't be wasting up to £700k per farm on paying French farmers to produce grain surplusses, which then puts farmers in the Third World (who don't get subsidies) out of business... Err...

  21. Muscleguy
    Black Helicopters

    I do wonder

    Why the govt is being so recalcitrant and dilatory over this. The delays are becoming beyond mere incompetence. It is becoming so that it is easier to suspect that the govt want phorm's techniques to be used because they hope to piggy back their own surveillance on it.

    Only both prompt introduction of the required changes into parliament and proper prosecution of BT, Phorm and the individuals responsible will take this suspicion away. With Mandy involved it looks even more suspicious. If I shook hands with that man I would count my fingernails afterwards.

  22. ForthIsNotDead

    Hang on...

    I'm confused that the bloke in the article was urging the UK government to change it's law. I thought EU law superceded local country laws, so there is no need to change law - EU applies. End of. Is this FUD or what?

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Andy Fletcher


    You're surely joking - yes, the EU has occaisionally done good stuff for the British electorate and this is a great example but give the Germans & French complete control over us? I'm honestly starting to think democracy itself is the problem here. I just don't trust anyone any more.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. irish donkey

    Tony B Lair

    Tony will take care of all this when he takes over....

    I mean a President from a country which is defying the Laws laid down by Europe

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You sure about this title thing?

    "The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) allows those intercepting communications to assume consent if they have "reasonable grounds for believing" it is given."

    Which is pretty silly of itself, but of course there needs to be some standard set for what constitutes "reasonable grounds for believing" and there needs to be some sort of authority able to make judgements on this where these "grounds for believing" are in dispute. Which leads us back into the previous paragraph.

    "There is no independent authority to hear complaints regarding interception of communications."

    So there is no authority empowered to make a judgement on what constitutes reasonable grounds.

    It's that nulabour special again. As long as you say you are "acting in good faith" then you're safe as long as (a) you are on friendly terms with a minister or senior civil servant or (b) it would cause severe embarassment to a minister or senior civil servant if you were to be prosecuted. It's not actually written down, but that seems to be how it works.

    Luckilly in this case the government have been caught out in their attempts to circumvent correct legal procedures. Remember people as far as are concerned, legal process is for people like you and me, it doesn't apply to them.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @can this also be applied to P2P IP data.

    Probably why wants a bailout clause...

  29. MinionZero

    Dear European Commission,

    Sorry our unelected political leader is unavailable for comment (as usual). Also his unelected political lap dog is too busy burying golden bones he keeps being given by his rich friends in business and the rest of the political elite are out cold it seems after a heavy lunch. I would just like to say our glorious leaders (who watch over us) need Phorm as we are all such stupid peasants who cannot get through the day without them telling us what to do and how to think and what to buy. They also need to earn their money poor things and they tell us its all for us, which is nice they care about us so much.

    We are however sorry they haven't got back to you yet, but as you are finding out, you it seems are having the same problem we are all having in trying to get them to listen to us all. Rest assured I am however sure they continue to spy on all of you. After all you like us can say things they do not like. Sadly our political elite all refuse to listen to anyone who they think is talking nasty to them, because nasty to them is asking them to do things and clean their room and stuff. So they simply refuse to do anything to help anyone who asks and even then the few things they do bother to do, (which they tell us is all for us), we end up finding out was actually helping them get ever richer with better jobs and play at being important people.

    We would very much like to help you with an election, but our political elite have decided they prefer to (for the time being) run the country like their own personal Totalitarian state. But anyway an election wouldn't make much difference as almost all UK politicians are only interested in their own greed and power to give them ever more personal gain. Therefore if you could arrange for their immediate arrest we would be most grateful. I fear however the only way they will listen to even you, the European Commission no less, will be when you can arrange to finish Guy Fawkes work. Still that would be a 5th of November to remember. Please hurry as there's still time before the 5th.

    In the mean time I am sorry to say they will probably still sit back and laugh at all of us knowing we cannot remove or stop them. I would like to say we will have the last laugh once we throw them all out of power at the next election, but sadly we all know they will go straight into extremely well paid jobs and become even richer after their years of trainee work experience playing at running a country and setting themselves up ready for their new jobs.

    Anyway, I would like to say thanks in advance for any help you can be and we look forward to the fireworks.

    p.s. for the love of all things sane, don't whatever you do, fall for electing Tony Blair or the whole of Europe will be pulled down into this nightmare mess we are currently in.

    @Our_Political_Elite: Sorry master, I know Phorm have now told you about me saying this and I will at once lay prostrate in the dirt so you can ride your horse drawn cart over me, rather than get dirt on its wheels for my crime of asking, please sir, can I have some democracy, freedom or liberty. I realize that democracy loving Domestic Extremists are everywhere and I will endeavor to do thy bidding in hunting down and burning these evil witches with their evil words of freedom and liberty who attempt to defy your glorious need for more wealth and power over us wretched souls who you fear so much. I fully understand and accept that you need Phorm to spy on us all, as we are such a stupid peasant class who cannot get through the day without you telling us what to do and how to think and what to buy.

  30. Kieran

    @ Soruk

    "The EU shouldn't fine the government, since that means the taxpayer has to foot the bill. Instead the ministers responsible for this should be forced to take responsibility for their own actions and pay the fines themselves."

    ..and presumably the taxpayers - who voted the ministers in, or stayed at home/spoiled their ballots allowing other to vote them in - don't bear any responsibility?

    Democracy Fail

  31. alistair millington
    Thumb Up

    Well I for one think.


    Fine BT every pound the Government are fined, simple. They caused the issue for taxpayers to pay, so pass it on.

    Then sack all responsible. Oh wait that will happen in June.


    Come on Europe.

  32. Alexander Hanff 1

    Will the IAB now withdraw their non-compliant guidelines on behavioural advertising platforms?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well Put. If I was a lady, I'd want to have your babies.

  34. Rolf Howarth
    Thumb Up


    "One hand sues for privacy infringement, the other tries to force DRM on us. WTF??"

    The EC are being entirely consistent:

    Consumers say "we know copying copyrighted material is wrong, but it's so easy to do and so incredibly useful we really, really want to be able to do it".

    Companies say " we know snooping on people's private browsing habits in order to sell them stuff is wrong, but t's so easy to do and so incredibly useful we really, really want to be able to do it".

    Both are wrong, and both need to be stood up against.


    Phorm is...

    the biggest industrial espionage scam ever to become public knowledge, never mind the biggest illegal surveillance crime. And no one has yet been jailed.

    Unintentional? What are the Home Office trying to suggest? A system that is purposely designed to intercept and manipulate telecommunications, using bastardised layer 7 switches, might be considered an unintentional accident?

    "Officer, I tripped, and the switch fell into the rack.. thereby attaching itself to my network, and then I'm ashamed to say I didn't even notice it there". What a load of tripe.

  36. noboard

    Errm spoilt ballots are counted

    They're generally so small they come at the end. Not voting doesn't; and shouldn't count.

    Personally voting another ineffective party full of corrupt people in instead of the current mob is a waste of a vote. That or not voting for who you want because "They wont win in this seat". All arguments designed to keep the status quo.

    I generally draw a box with "None of the above" and then tick it. You get some funny looks from the people overseeing the thing while you're obviously putting more than an X.

  37. Daniel Wilkie

    Not sure if want

    I can see the benefit of improving personal privacy, but I'm not sure saddling the taxpayers with "Large daily fines" is really going to do anything for our already completely fucked economy at the moment to be honest.

    No doubt it will do wonders for the EC as a whole though, since they'll be getting a large daily income courtesy of the British Taxpayer.

  38. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Every cloud has silver linings and the Cloud had Gold and Diamond Mines of Mined Information

    "Phorm is... the biggest industrial espionage scam ever to become public knowledge, never mind the biggest illegal surveillance crime. And no one has yet been jailed." ....By Posted Thursday 29th October 2009 15:25 GMT,

    Have you any idea the mountain of dirt that has been collected on those who would think that they are running things?

  39. Les Matthew

    unelected political leader, correct me if I'm wrong

    but I've always been under the impression that in the UK we elect a political party not a leader.

    You didn't all vote for John Major in November 1990, did you?

  40. N2

    Phorm is

    Hoping no one notices that they are in cahoots with the current government.

    Im sure their sleazy surveillance machine would have never got this far without some 'enterprise initiative' for scum bags that meet up in public toilets...

    "I slipped & part of my body unintentionally entered his, that is the end of the statement"

  41. Scott 19

    I have an idea

    Brewsters Millions if anyones seen the film when he runs for mayor he quits but pushes for 'Non off the above' i say on polling day next may you create a box and tick it at the bottom of your polling card and write 'non of the above'.

  42. Neil Greatorex
    Thumb Down

    Pyrrhic Victory I fancy

    The losers in this fiasco will be us, the tax payers.

    "Lord Mandy" - What an arse, he wouldn't recognise "fair and reasonable" if it jumped out and shafted him, the twice disgraced, money grubbing twat! He is now, apparently, a "heavyweight" in nulabours arsenal. Up your arsenal I say to him.

    The sooner we get this load of trough snouting, incompetent arses out, the better.

    Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

    I say we sic Miss Bee on 'em :-)

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taxpayers did not propose or approve Phorm

    Taxpayers did not illegally propose or illegally approve Phorm.

    Taxpayers should not pay the price.

    Individuals (and a company or two) allegedly illegally proposed and allegedly illegally approved Phorm.

    If the companies are punished financially, all they do is pass the cost on to their customers (if they bother to pay: hello MS EU fines).

    If there is to be punishment, it is the guilty Individuals that need to be punished, not the innocent bystanders.

    That is all.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I believe you meant to type that on a website that is somehow related to the EU, as typing it here is like farting in a wind tunnel...

    Really people, i am all for venting, but tell someone who cares aswell!!!!

    (and yes, i just emailed the office of the EU presidency about this matter... in Sweden).

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "On one hand next election Labour will be gone which is great, on the other the Tories will sever ties with Europe as much as possible."

    There are other parties. You have a point, that Labour is dangerous and the Conservatives are worse, but it's people like you, spouting shit like this that locks a lot of people into feeling that it's a helpless choice between two parties. If you don't like the alternatives, find the one that's closest and try to do something about the situation. The system *is* undemocratic, but it's not going to change if everyone just keeps accepting the idea that it's only a choice of one or the other and anything else is wasted or won't make a difference.

    What is it with the people of the UK? The media keeps letting comments like this through and the populace just laps it up. I notice that they're already talking about Blair as though he is already president of the EU. That's gonna help - NOT.

    Get your head out of your arse, stop listening to the media and look at the alternatives.

  46. Just2Say

    UK to EU - stuff it! :D

    how can the EU punnish the UK? Lets think.... Kick us out of the EU!!!! Pleeeeeeeease..........

  47. MinionZero

    @correct me if I'm wrong

    We do elect a political leader when we elect their party. When they change their leader, thats a big event.

    Its a bit like the old saying about the person who thinks they still have the same broom, for the past 20 years, even though its had 5 new heads and 4 new handles. The point is, its not the same broom anymore, which is the point. This NuLabour with a new leader isn't what some people originally signed up for and don't even get me started on twice thrown out and unelected Peter "Heinrich Himmler Mk2" Mandelson. That corrupt scum bag is brought in and in months he is ruling over business dealings and suddenly has one of the most powerful jobs in NuLabour and don't forget he was the architect of NuLabour. He certainly has very powerful friends in high places. He reminds me of the manipulative way Himmler behaved in the decades before the 2nd WW which is bloody scary. Give that guy anymore power and the UK population would be in serious danger not just trouble with his shockingly arrogant lack of empathy towards people. He is the type of political Narcissistic weasel that is very dangerous.

    The whole of NuLabour is behaving collectively exactly like they are no longer accountable and answerable to the people who voted them in and instead they are imposing their will on everyone. Every day we have more Totalitarian moves by them to decide how we should all live and they fail to show any empathy to any of us and all the time they are adding ever more ways to spy on us all so they can avoid any opposition to their corrupt plans. So no, we didn't sign up for this pack of corrupt arrogant greedy Narcissistic control freaks.

    But they won't call an election because they know the vast majority of people hate them. Which means they know we don't want them in power over us. Yet worse still, they are relentlessly trying to increase their power over us all. They are not doing that for us all, they are intentionally doing it against us all.

  48. Watashi

    Epic Fail

    Interestingly, this should have ramifications for the P2P three-strikes policy Mandy wants to introduce. Basically, the only way for an ISP to know that the P2P traffic of a certain internet user is illegal is to 'spy' on the content of the data. Under our right to privacy, ISPs must ask us our permission before they can monitor what we are downloading. If they do not, they are breaking the law.

    So, if your ISP sends you a letter asking for consent to monitor your connection, tell them they can't. If they threaten to disconnect you if you don't, threaten to report them to Ofcom and to make a complaint to the police.

  49. Intractable Potsherd

    @Les Matthews ...

    ... we do not elect a party at all - that is what they want you to believe. We elect an MP, who does not have to be a member of a party at all. The electoral system was hijacked back in the mid-19th Century so that "party" became so important. I am seriously thinking of standing as an independent at the next election, and hope many others do as well. A Parliament with people who will not be under the control of party whips might actually clear out some of the crap ideas that have accumulated over the last fifty years.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    @Les Matthew

    I voted for my local Tory candidate, which by implication means the Tory party and their leader John Major. I would do so again as the alternative was Neil Kinnock - a good influence on a bad party, but not PM material.

    Of course, as I said in '97, you get what you vote for - a dozen years of Police State eaves-dropping and violation of privacy, several wars (Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan) and economic smoke-and-mirrors that would make Hitler swoon with envy.

  51. Steen Hive

    @Rolf Howarth

    "Both are wrong, and both need to be stood up against"

    Yeah, in the same way as parking on double-yellow lines stacks up in the "wrongness" stakes against mowing down pedestrians with a bulldozer.

  52. Luther Blissett

    @amfM - if Viviane thinks

    > If Viviane thinks for one moment that electronic communications are confidential or will remain unknown,...

    She has in fact a reason to think so - the EC has issued a recommendation that emails be encrypted with PGP. Of course, if no one does, that is hardly a reason for thinking communications are not confidential, merely that they are mostly unencrypted.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    MPs = UK Ltd Directors?

    MPs = UK Ltd Directors?

    I don't think so.

    Proof: Phorm.

    Directors permitting illegal activities on shareholders conflicting with legal duty and responsibility of Director acting in best interests of shareholders.

  54. David 45


    Surprised Mandy hasn't got his sticky fingers into this particular affair. Sounds like just his cup of tea.

  55. davenewman

    Directives do not override laws

    When the Council of Ministers (of the EU member countries) agrees on a directive, this is published. It is then up to each country's parliament to turn those into laws in their own legal framework. A law written for a Roman law country like France or Scotland will not work in a common law country like England or Ireland.

    It is only when a country cheats in turning directives into national laws, that the EC can take action.

    Unfortunately they cannot guillotine the Ministers, all they can do is fine the country.

  56. FoolD


    At least we can vote out the UK government. How does one go about voting out the EU commission ? In this case the EU is onside, but thats only because Phorm wasn't farsighted enough to lobby the EU first. That will happen - what then ?

    What we need is a government that is more accountable to the people of the UK - not less so.

  57. Alexander Hanff 1


    Actually I can state as a matter of fact that you are incorrect in your assumption that Phorm did not attempt to lobby the EU because they did and they failed. The reason they failed is because as was explained to me by Commissioner Reding's staff at our meeting in Brussels in May - there have been only 1 or 2 other issues where the Commission have received the same level of complaints from the public as they did over Phorm - they made it quite clear that the level of complaints was overwhelmingly high.

  58. Reg Sim

    From what I understand...

    ... It would be BT that would face any wraith, as I am damm sure Phorm made sure they kept there hands legaly clean.

    It would be nice if this lead to the breakup of BT, such a stupid idea.... and I am terrifyed of the idea of us giving them a new monopoly with the roll out of fibre. Is it just me or do other private companys not roll out there own fibre at there own cost?

    I wonder if I can pay my tax's directly to Europe? (BTW I am glad Tony (the mass murderer) Blair is not getting to sit the in european high seat).

  59. Martin Nicholls

    EU Law

    "I'm confused that the bloke in the article was urging the UK government to change it's law. I thought EU law superceded local country laws, so there is no need to change law - EU applies. End of. Is this FUD or what?"

    Not at all, they EU creates directives which are supposed to be implemented into local laws. Is basically all your bases are belong to us without the noob pwnage.

    The various EU courts and executives only really when the directives are still being implimented - which is why it's bloody hard to get into the ECHR - which incidentally the other meaning of the EHCR is another part of european 'law' that BT/Phorm/HMG 'drove an express train through' to quote another recent el reg article - which the the EU has been shockingly quiet on.

    I wish these trials affected me so I could complain to the right people/have my day in court. Kind of why I was hoping they'd just roll Phorm out regardless...

    Why did nobody involved go the the IPCC anyways? Their /job/ is to investigate criminal police collusion like in this case.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Who pays for the EU

    For all those claiming that the UK pays for the EU look here and say to the nice Germans: "we are sorry".

  61. Anonymous Coward

    Who gets the push?

    Somebody's high up in authority head should be on the block for this.

    Also BT leadership have lots of questions to answer. Has anybody high up within the BT executive been sacked over these unbelievable errors of judgement?

  62. Scott 19

    The scary thing

    This shoudl be straight forward for any guberment, they've done wrong put them through the legal system (OK Gov.UK don't want to upset these people as they are making the technology to spie on all the sheep so don't enforce there own law), but then the EU get invovled you would think they would be trying to deal with this quickly and correctly they've had enough time?

    The Home Office, which is responsible for RIPA, said: "We are firmly committed to protecting users' privacy and data." (This is just a lie as proven by every other mass survallence that this guberment is putting in place)

    "We are considering the Commission's letter and will respond in due course." ((I have a funny feeling that all the other times the commission has heard this but actually recieved nothing may make them laugh (Gov.UK making us the laughing stock of the EU))

    FAIL for this goverment and no i don't know if the other party will be better but after ten years of FAIL i'm willing to give them ago. NuLie-bour using your money to destroy your freedoms.

  63. Tom 106

    Out of this should come:

    The dismantling of BT.

    A stop on Mandelsons and Digital Britain 3 strikes & you're out.

    A stop on IMP and MIT.

    A stop on Tony Blair being crowned the King of Europe.

    Another nail in the coffin of the Labour party.

  64. Man Mountain

    This is just scaremongering

    From what I understand of the Phorm model, they record patterns of internet use but not the details of the person doing the browsing. ie. They can tell that user 456 browses motoring and golf websites but not any details about user 456. So they generate patterns and combinations of use rather than individual browsing habits. I don't see the problem with this. But then again, I think we should all be on a DNA database which would make Crimewatch a lot shorter!

  65. MarmiteToast

    @Oliver Jones

    > By Oliver Jones Posted Thursday 29th October 2009 13:30 GMT

    >> "Spoil your ballet paper on election day. It's the only way to ensure none of the incompetent >> idiots get in."

    > Errm, no, it's one good way to make sure your vote won't count! If you're just going to spoil your ballot paper, why bother going out to vote? Either way, the outcome will be the same.

    The point of spoiling your ballot paper is that every spoilt vote is count and acts as a vote of no confidence in British politics

  66. Evil_Trev

    @Man Mountain

    Fail, As doubtless many others will explain, you go to some website and it picks up your phorm tracking number, along with everybody elses, you enter your name address etc. and this third party company can link you to your phorm i.d. then all they need do is buy 'anonymous' data from phorm and bingo your personal surfing habits laid bare and linked to your name, address et al.

    Phorm (or now the next gang of miscreants) track you 'anonymously' , then the government gather their data plus some extra from the ISP and can link you to your browsing history.

  67. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Fining the taxpayers... incredibly unfair, but might be what is required for Joe Public and his X-factor-obsessed media to sit up pay attention to the fact that their government is refusing to enforce the law.

    Perhaps when all the "Daily"s have "How much has NuLab's inaction cost you so far" counters on their front pages, and opposition politicians are getting easy (and daily) hits by asking the same, those responsible might get off their arses and unblock the legal machinery. (I can only assume there's been some high-level dictat to say "don't prosecute on this one", since BT aren't actually denying that they did it so it seems a pretty open and shut case.)

  68. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Re @Man Mountain


    The weakness/strength in any Phorm type MetaData Phishing Operation, and you can be assured that that there are indeed many of them, is that the Spooky Intelligence Snoopers and Information Analysts are easily Groomed to Present a Particular Perception of a Virtual Presence which may or may not be an Accurate and Viable Mirror of the Third Party of Interest Reality/MindSet ....... for any Extrapolation of Past Data/History to indicate a likely Future Position on such an IDEntity is only a foreign and false view from a Being being Tested and/or Exploited to Prove that there are exceptions to any Rule which would presume to be in Control of Anything with such covert surveillance/product supply.

    Indeed, it does raise the spectre of deliberate entrapment in some cases.

  69. Matt 58
    Thumb Up

    joined up government thinking

    Phorm man: Damn it, its all gone wrong.

    Government man: Oh really?

    Phorm man: Someone noticed what we were doing and told some one else, now its all over the net.

    Government man: I see - *backs away*

    Phorm man: Yes well, someone is going to have to carry the can for this.

    Government man: Sorry, can’t hear you.

    Phorm man: Might be a fine, look like it may have been illegal.

    Government man: Shit, really… OK.. Ok wait… ok no money left.. I’m thinking TAX.. I’m thinking TAX to raise money on something internet related.. OK 50 p tax on all phone lines in the UK, sound good to you?

    Phorm man: Genius.

    Government man: I’ll put mine on expenses.

    Phorm man: I’ll quit, it’ll be someone else’s problem then.

    Government man: Genius.

  70. Gordon is not a Moron

    @Man Mountain

    just out of curiosity is your real name Kent Ertugrul or possibly even Jacqui Smith?

    Run away, the Privacy Pirates are coming!!!!

  71. Lord Lien
    Thumb Up

    I will be one happy BT customer.....

    I use my BT connection for looking at internet porn. So I demand that they send round some hookers, or at least send a few naked pictures to my inbox...... men or women I'm not fussy in my old age :)

    Thumbs up cos phorm is gonna work out fine for me :)

  72. Rolf Howarth

    @Steen Hive

    "Yeah, in the same way as parking on double-yellow lines stacks up in the "wrongness" stakes against mowing down pedestrians with a bulldozer."

    What, you mean the way one of the crimes involves a victim (the copyright holder, the pedestrian) and the other doesn't?

  73. Jimmy 1

    Let them eat toast.

    @ Marmite Toast

    "The point of spoiling your ballot paper is that every spoilt vote is counted and acts as a vote of no confidence in British politics"

    Looks like a good idea on the surface but unfortunately it won't change anything because our current bunch of self-serving politicians simply won't get the message. It's time we exercised some real voting power and administered some punishment for those who hold us in such contempt.

    The strategy is simple: on election day go along to your local polling station and regardless of previous party preference or the quality of the candidates, record your vote for the person with the best chance of unseating the sitting MP. If enough people did this it would be a double whammy for the citizens of this benighted nation: firstly, we would have a clearance of the spineless lobby fodder who have failed to defend our rights and secondly, it would provide a salutatory lesson for the new boys and girls of what to expect if they failed to speak up on our behalf.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thinking very seriously

    about creating a new political party called 'None of the above' - by the comments here I think I stand a chance on being the next PM

  75. JustMathew


    There was I thinking this was the second part of a BOFH double bill today, my bad?

  76. Gordon is not a Moron

    @Jimmy 1

    That's a great idea, yes we'd still probably get a Conservative majority, but there is a huge bonus.

    We'd then get to see 'Call Me Dave' Cameron flapping about trying to explain having a Labour government with "a Prime Minister you didn't vote for" ™ was a bad thing but a Conservative government with "a Prime Minister you didn't vote for" ™ is a truely spiffing idea and there is no need for another election.

  77. chris 130

    A good kicking is in order

    To dissuade nasty corporate boys from trying this again; they need a damn good kicking.

    I'm in - who's signing up?

  78. Anonymous Coward

    @Man Mountain

    Er, when AOL leaked all that 'anonymised' user data all those years ago, you obviously weren't watching, and you're not watching still; I guess you never will.

  79. Anonymous Coward

    May I suggest...

    ... that everyone who takes the slightest interest in UK politics and REALLY wants to know wtf is REALLY going on should read Peter Oborne's book "The Triumph Of The Political Class". And THEN go "Fuck! how did we let that happen?"

  80. brym

    LogMeIn uses Phorm

    If you fire up LogMeIn and goto LMI Connections, I found an entry there labelled "a.webwise[dot]com" - which was later confirmed by a group of friends, who also promptly uninstalled LMI. Think I'll stick with VNC!

    Webwise, in case you didn't know, is yet another method for Phorm to monitor your browsing behaviour, which is used by Virgin Media. That website quickly redirects you to Phorm's main website.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Reasonable belief?

    I would love to hear the arguments from BT about their reasonable belief in the consent they thought they had from their customers. For example - their reasonable belief that Stephen Mainwaring didn't mind having his online business shut down while he investigated the security leak he suspected his network had after he had been incuded in the trials and then lied to by BT staff. For example their reasonable belief that their customers didn't mind having javascript injected into their forum posts. For example, their reasonable belief that I didn't mind having every bite of my traffic intercepted by Russian programmed DPI equipment. I've never yet heard them explain why they believed that. And the only explanation I HAVE heard about BT not seeking my consent was the lame one offered by the ICO that said it would be technically difficult to describe what they were doing because I as a customer would be too thick to understand.

    I'm also puzzled that if BT DID think that they had my consent, then why could they not come clean straight away when customers, AND the press tackled them about the trials? Why did they mislead both customers and press about the 2006 and 2007 trials. If they had this reasonable belief in our consent then there was nothing to hide, nothing to be embarrassed about, nothing to lie about.

    Truth was, in the February/March last year they were WETTING themselves because they knew they DIDN'T have consent.

  82. Azrael

    Am I the only one...

    Who is alright with the idea that you should be able to "snoop" if you have "reasonable grounds for believing" that consent was given?

    Seriously, I think that's alright. As long as there are "reasonable grounds."

    I had someone call me a few days ago, upset that us techs had "loaded the contents of her hard disk onto the network server" - the reason is because her mapped drive didn't connect and decided to show her C: instead. So I assured her that was likely what happened, she was still concerned, so I pulled open her account and said "I'm looking at it now. There's nothing that's been put in there, other than the files we worked on last week" - yes, officially I just violated her privacy (although I'm allowed to because it's a work account, etc.) - but really I did have "reasonable grounds to assume consent was given" since I was previously working with her on the files that were in her account, and we were discussing files in her account. I could have said "Mind if I look in there?" but that can sometimes be a (minor) annoyance - if she wasn't on the phone I'd have looked, then sent an email with the same information, rather than asking for permission, waiting hours, looking, sending the mail, and perhaps having a much longer delay before she gets her answer.

    For me the question really should be what "reasonable" grounds are. Set some definition, make it reasonable, and things will probably work out reasonably well.

    For example, is it reasonable to do snooping, if the data is anonymized as it's recorded? That would potentially allow companies to provide better service without impacting their users privacy.

    Privacy is good. It's important. But if we don't have reasonable privacy laws that let people gather appropriate information, then the *important* laws will be either ignored or removed to get rid of those barriers.

  83. brym


    So why does Phorm need to know what I'm doing in a remote session between my work and home computers? And for that matter, why does LMI? The things I do on my own computer are my own business and no-one elses. That I'm accessing them remotely should never be an issue. And that I'm deeply concerned about a gross violation of my privacy should never be reason to suspect I'm using my computer for anything illegal.

    Maybe it should be seen as the major Telco's exploiting us for even more money by illegally recording and selling our browsing behaviour without notifying us or receiving our consent, and still not passing on that profit in the form of broadband networks which actually delivery broadband speeds.

  84. MinionZero


    @Azrael: "For me the question really should be what "reasonable" grounds are"

    For a start you are not dealing with reasonable people. They don't care about you and they will exploit you in any way they can for their own gain. I'm not just saying that. Its shocking and hard to believe I know, but that's really how bad they think. You are dealing with Narcissism. They really don't have empathy for anyone but themselves. They don't care about other people. To them, you are meaningless. You are a pawn to them that they will lie to, so they can use you for their own gain and if you believe their lies they win.

    When you talk to these kinds of people, they will often behave like your best friend, and say so many things that sound ever so reasonable, but behind their act, they have utter contempt for you.

    The whole concept of Phorm is Narcissistic. Phorm don't have any right at all to spy and exploit us all for their own gain. They wouldn't like us to spy on them for our gain. But the problem with Phorm is they know political control freaks would love to get access to Phorm data (and Phorm technology) to spy on us all.

    Technology is becoming a way to game political power to wipe out a lot of the freedoms that democracy was created for, to prevent such extreme abuses of political power in the past. They are gaming the political system. For example, NuLabour have repeatedly shown they don't even care about the law. They simply re-write the law into whatever suits them. So how do you define reasonable when later on they can simply redefine what they consider reasonable to spy on. Businesses and governments work together. Money and power working work together but then even money is all about power over people who need money.

    These are people you cannot trust at all. As the old saying goes, "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile". They don't care about us. They are Narcissistic as in Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They are arrogant self centered lying greedy control freaks, only interested in themselves with utter contempt for everyone else.

    So any promise of opt in and opt out is meaningless. Phorm and the government cannot be trusted *at all*. We don't have this technology at all, because if it exists in any form, it will suffer feature creep into a way for the control freaks to use it to spy ever more on all of us, for the personal gain of the control freaks. If they have it at all, it takes us a major step towards becoming a Totalitarian state. A Narcissists dream world is a Totalitarian state with them in an unquestionable position of extreme power. Their Utopia is everyone else's Dystopia. Its why they have to be opposed before their contempt for all of us gets so bad it makes life intolerable for most people. All these control freaks are trying to exploit technology ever more to destroying all our privacy, freedom, liberty and even democracy, always ultimately for their own gain.

    But if you are so idealistic you still believe they can be "reasonable", you will fail to understand a great deal of what I have just said and so you will fail to see the great danger the Narcissists are becoming to all of us. If you think this is getting bad, you haven't even begun to see just how dangerous this nightmare is becoming. For example, here's a glimpse of where we are going...

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