European Commission Could Sue UK Over Phorm Privacy Controversy

The European Commission, lead by the Commissioner Viviane Reding, has criticised the UK for giving too much liberty to internet service firms to gather personal data on users and could take actions to remediate this.

In a statement published today, EU Telecommmunications Commissioner Reding said that she called on the UK authorities "to change their national laws and ensure that national authorities are duly empowered and have proper sanctions at their disposal to enforce EU legislation on the confidentiality of communications".

The uneasy relationship between BT and Phorm, the controversial behavioural targeting company was at the source of her frustration with the UK government, given that the latter knew about the business which violates EU laws on certain aspects.

Phorm has attracted a number of warranted criticisms as BT tested the system using its own users as guinea pigs without their consent, although the United Kingdom expressly condemns the "intentional" interception of data.

Other mainstream internet service providers like Talktalk and Virgin Media have already signified their interest in using Phorm to generate much needed advertising money.

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Our Comments

Interesting development in the case of Phorm. The City of London Police abandoned an investigation of Phorm in 2008 related to the way BT conducted its secret trials the year before since it would cost too much and be too complex. Now the European Commission is essentially saying that if the government doesn't condemn Phorm and take measures to curb its progress, it will intervene which may end up with heavy fines being handed.

Related Links

EU Says UK Personal Electronic Data Protection Inadequate

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20090414-703454.html

Brussels to sue UK over Phorm failures

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/14/eu_phorm_formal/

EC starts legal action on Phorm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7998009.stm

European Commission launches legal action against Phorm

http://www.nma.co.uk/Articles/42180/European+Commission+launches+legal+action+against+Phorm.html

EU probes Britain's Internet confidentiality rules

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-04/14/content_11186160.htm

Britain on trial over Phorm

http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/news/251121/britain-on-trial-over-phorm.html

European Commission takes legal action against UK government over Phorm

http://www.brandrepublic.com/News/898183/European-Commission-takes-legal-action-against-UK-government-Phorm/

European Commission opens proceeding against UK and Phorm

http://channel.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=18065

EU launches action against Britain over internet privacy laws

http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/264272,eu-launches-action-against-britain-over-internet-privacy-laws.html