Skip to main content

BT And Phorm Avoid Prosecution Over Privacy Violations

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided against prosecuting BT and Phorm over the secret trial of a new online behavioural marketing tool that installed cookies on browsers without user consent.

The CPS found that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the ISP and the controversial online marketing firm despite claims made by privacy groups that the companies violated EU privacy laws.

Back in 2006, BT, in partnership with Phorm, had installed browser cookies without the consent of users. Their trial had affected 18,000 users in the UK and had caused an uproar among privacy advocacy groups.

Phorm's technology was used to track users' online activities, allowing advertisers to serve behaviour-based advertisements to the users.

The CPS claimed that, even after collecting expert reviews and determining how the technology offered by Phorm worked, a prosecution was not in public interest. The court claimed that BT had received sufficient legal advise before embarking on the trial and had stopped tracking users when it received warnings regarding the technology.

“At present, the available evidence is insufficient to provide a realistic prospect of conviction. In the vast majority of cases, we would only decide whether to prosecute after the investigation had been completed and after all the likely evidence had been reviewed,” the CPS said.