p2pnet news view Advertising | Crime | P2P:- BT is Britain’s equivalent of Comcast in the US and Bell Canada and in June, p2pnet ran a story saying Phorm nemesis Alex Hanff was organising a protest outside BTs offices in London, England, for July.
“He’s also he started a blog called, appropriately, No DPI – Watching them watching us,” we wrote, noting it was a case file would probably be officially handed in to the police.
What had BT done to justify such determined action?
It’d tested privacy pirate Phorm’s DPI (deep packet inspection) consumer spy technology in 2007 without bothering to tell its customers, claiming the trial was legitimate because, it said, individual users’ information remained anonymous.
But privacy campaigners such as Hanff begged to differ, saying it was a serious breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000, which makes it an offence to intercept Net traffic without consent or a warrant.
Now, “City of London police questioned BT earlier this week as part of a probe into the covert wiretapping and profiling of the internet use of tens of thousands of BT customers during tests of Phorm’s adware system,” says The Register, going on »»»
City of London CID met BT representatives on Tuesday.Officers have been examining the dossier of evidence handed to Wood Street police station by campaigners following the 16 June protest against BT’s planned full deployment of Phorm’s technology. It included the internal documents detailing the 2006 trial, which we reported here.
There’s no indication as to whether formal proceedings will be brought. Considerations will include whether it falls within City of London police’s remit to investigate crimes that affect the residents or workers of London’s financial district, and whether charges would be proportionate and in the public interest.
‘Behavioural advertising technology’
In August, “It’s been a month since Phorm adversary Alex Hanff (on the right, pictured with Phorm boss Kent Ertegrul during a TV debate) made an official criminal complaint to the City of London Police in England, said p2net.
Phorm ran secret ‘trials’ in the US, “but Hanff was citing other experiments centering on Phorm`s (then 121Media) covert behavioural advertising technology called Webwise (previously called PageSense/ProxySense),” said p2pnet, continuing:
” ‘I have received a lot of communications from the public and the press asking for updates on the case so yesterday I phoned City of London Police at Wood Street for an update,’ Hanff posts on No DPI‘.”
He said he was, “a little suprised to discover that the department I was told the complaint would be handed to (Specialist Crime Unit) does not exist and that they had no idea where the complaint was.”
However, Hanff persisted, ultimately posting a long description of a conversation he had with a CoL detective sergeant.
It concluded, “I hope that this article will encourage CoL Police enough to finally start taking the issue seriously and proceed with criminal charges against BT Group PLC and Phorm Inc. for their criminal actions during the 2006 trials of Phorm`s advertising technology.
“Perhaps it will have a knock on effect of forcing the police to take such complaints more seriously in the future.”
Adds The Register:
“A spokeswoman for City of London Police said she was unable to provide any information on Tuesday’s meeting because no decision has yet been taken on whether to formally investigate. It is thought senior officers will decide that within two weeks.
“BT, which declined to comment today, has said it took legal advice that said running the trials without customer consent was legal. It has not detailed what the advice said, and data law experts have charged that it broke several criminal statutes.
“Most notably, an analysis (pdf) by the Foundation for Information Policy Research’s legal counsel Nicholas Bohm concluded that the trials had broken the Regulation of Iinvestigatory Powers Act (RIPA) as well as data protection and fraud laws. The Home office’s own advice, obtained by BT after it had run the two secret trials, said deployments of Phorm’s systems would only be legal under RIPA if consent was obtained from ISP subscribers.”
Jon Newton – p2pnet
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