Home Office & Phorm Exchanged Emails Over Service's Legality

There are claims that the Home Office has apparently been "colluding" with online behavioural advertising company Phorm over whether the firm's service was totally legal.

The BBC revealed earlier today that it saw email exchanges between the Home Office and Phorm which appeared to show that the ministry, in BBC's Darren Waters own words, "asking if the firm would be comforted by its position" and Phorm replying by "making changes to the guidance sought by the ministry".

The email discussion dated back from August 2007 until January 2008 and it is unknown why it actually came to light more than a year later. The emails were released after an unknown person made a request under the Freedom of Information Act and subsequently sent to the BBC.

Phorm initially requested the government to provide with a view on the company's technology to which the Home office obliged. The BBC describes how the company and unknown bureaucrats within the Home Office communicated.

The event described by Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokeswoman Baroness Sue Miller as being jaw dropping, questioning the very logic behind the Home Office's decision to ask Phorm for advise over a draft implementation of the law.

In a statement to ITPro, a Home Office spokesperson defended the ministry's moves saying "Any suggestion of 'collusion' is totally unfounded. We have repeatedly said since these documents were released a year ago that the Government has not endorsed Phorm or its technology."

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Our Comments

What the government has done is like asking the BNP for advise on national immigration law or getting the conservatives to decide on the agenda of the next Labour manifesto. If what the BBC is reporting is indeed true, then this is totally unbelievable and inadmissible.

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