Internet: Advertising

Home Department written question – answered on 23rd June 2008.

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Photo of Daniel Kawczynski Daniel Kawczynski Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department

(1) if she will review the guidance note her Department has issued on the compatibility of targeted online advertising with existing legislation, with particular reference to the online marketing tool, Phorm;

(2) what reports she has received on the compatibility of the internet marketing tool Phorm with existing legislation; and if she will make a statement;

(3) what investigations have been carried out by (a) her Department and (b) police forces into the use of the internet marketing tool Phorm.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office

In response to requests from some companies in the communications industry for a Home Office view on targeted online advertising and the applicability of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), a note was issued in February this year. The note was produced without reference to any particular technology or application. It was not intended for publication, but was disseminated by one of the companies. It can be found at:

The note expressed a generalised view on whether RIPA was relevant to targeted online advertising. However, it was not formal guidance nor was it a definitive statement of the law. The Home Office has subsequently received a number of representations and reports from interested parties who have expressed their view on this matter. Those representations have not changed the Home Office view, as set out in the note.

The Home Office has not undertaken any investigations into any targeted online advertising services. Investigations of this nature would be a matter for the police, although we are not aware of any such investigations.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes2 people think so

No25 people think not

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John Yorke
Posted on 25 Jun 2008 11:56 am (Report this annotation)

Regarding question 1) I would like the guidance note to be revised with particular reference to BT's secret trials in 2006 and 2007, which seem to have not followed the Home Office Guidlines or the ICO stance on informed consent being obtained.

Regarding question 2) It would be interesting to know which reports have been read and dismissed, I found Richard Clayton's and Nicholas Bohm's reports interesting reading and find it hard to believe they could be dismissed out of hand. They seem like they deserve careful consideration and perhaps a response to the issues raised.

Regarding question 3) West Mercia Police have conducted an investigation and did so in consultation with the Home Office, in an email I had from the Police "DCI ******* has sought advice from the Home Office and High Tech Crime Unit. " Given the high profile nature of this issue it seems odd that the Home Office is unaware of the investigation or that you were actually consulted as part of it.