Phorm – EU to the rescue

In a major embarrasment for the UK government, the European Commission has launched a case against the UK over its privacy and personal data protection laws.  According to the EU the UKs laws do not properly protect “the confidentiality of communications by prohibiting interception and surveillance without the user’s consent”.

The case was triggered by BT’s tests last year of Phorm, the controversial ‘behavioural advertising’ technology. Complaints at the time resulted in a police investigation which eventually concluded that the trial was compliant with UK law. The government claimed at the time that UK legislation was fully compliant with the European Directive. The EU clearly disagrees, arguing that, amongst other things the UK lacks ‘an independent national supervisory authority dealing with such interceptions’.

EU member countries are required to introduce laws to put EU Directives into effect. The UK is generally very good at doing this but may have slipped up in this case. The government have two months to respond to the EU after which proceedings will commence towards taking the UK to the European Court of Justice.