Law OK for Phorm

Existing data protection and privacy laws in Britain are enough to protect consumers worried about controversial targeted advertising company Phorm monitoring Internet browsing, the government has said.

More than 21,400 British consumers had signed a petition on a government Website asking lawmakers to investigate whether the service, which has been trialled by BT, breached existing laws, and, if not, whether such laws should be revised.

The government said advertisers and Internet service providers needed to ensure that they complied with all relevant data protection and privacy laws. “It is also important that consumers’ privacy is fully protected and that they are given sufficient information and opportunity to make a clear and informed decision whether to participate in services such as Phorm,” it said in a statement.

The Information Commissioner’s Office would closely monitor Phorm’s progress to ensure it was compatible with legislation, the government said. Amazon, Wikipedia and others have already barred Phorm from using their Web pages to gather data on Internet users.

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