Internet: BT and Phorm

House of Lords written question – answered on 29th September 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Spokesperson in the Lords, Home Affairs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which United Kingdom authorities have received complaints regarding the interception or surveillance of communications and related traffic data for the purpose of online behaviourally targeted advertising; and which authorities are investigating or have investigated those complaints; and

Which United Kingdom authorities have received complaints about the trials of Phorm technology by BT in 2006 and 2007; which authorities have investigated or are investigating those complaints; and what conclusions they have reached.

Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Security and Counter-terrorism)

A number of authorities have received complaints about targeted online advertising and more specifically Phorm, including the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, BERR, Ofcom, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Interception of Communications Commissioner's Office. Additionally, a number of police forces have been contacted with similar complaints. We are not aware of any active investigations.

BERR, the Ministry of Justice and the Information Commissioner's Office have spoken to British Telecom about its use of targeted online advertising. The ICO is monitoring the situation, in particular with reference to the ease with which customers might exercise their choice to opt in or opt out of any scheme.

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