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Phorm, BT escape privacy prosecution

April 12, 2011

The UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided not to prosecute BT and Phorm for secretly tracking the online habits of 18,000 Internet users. BT and Phorm sparked controversy in 2006 and 2007 when it emerged that the companies were covertly trialing software tracking users behaviour in order to deliver targeted advertising. BT ditched the Phorm system in 2009.

The CPS has decided there was insufficient evidence to prosecute BT and Phorm under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which makes it an offence to intercept internet traffic without either the user’s explicit consent or a judicial warrant. The decision was criticised by privacy campaigners, Simon Davies, director of the campaign group Privacy International said “There’s a real risk that big corporations are escaping scot-free whenever they violate the rights of people in the UK. There doesn’t appear to be any legal infrastructure to tackle these companies.”

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