EC challenge over internet privacy

European Commission to investigate advertising technology

The European Commission is to investigate the UK government’s failure to prevent the use of technology which allows ISPs to track internet use without consent.

The proposed action follows the test use of "Phorm technology" by BT which enabled the company to track its customers’ internet searches without their knowledge. The Information Commissioner’s Officer had deemed that the technology was legal, and the UK-listed company Phorm, which developed the service, maintains that it is fully compliant with UK legislation and EU directives.

The Commission states that EU countries must ensure the confidentiality of communications by banning the interception and surveillance of internet users without their consent. The EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "We have been following the Phorm case for some time and have concluded that there are problems in the way the UK has implemented parts of EU rules on the confidentiality of communications."

Following these developments popular websites Amazon and Wikipedia have barred Phorm systems from access to data on their users.

The UK has two months to reply to the EC’s formal notification.