UK Home Office slammed for privacy laws

Blighty’s Home Office is in trouble  over its handling of the advertising outfit Phorm in 2009.

Last year, privacy groups criticised BT’s trialling of Phorm’s behavioural advertising software which seemed to tell the world+dog about everything the person was doing. The European Commission called for the UK to change its laws.

Now it seems that Brussels has ordered the government to make changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which covers communications interception and would kill off Phorm.

Under the proposals, even unintentional interception of communications could be punished.

However the Open Rights Group (ORG) has slammed the way in which the Government has handled the issue, noting how there is little time to give responses to the consultation.

They told IT PRO that while it was good that the Home Office has finally pulled finger and come up with rules to solve the problem of Internet monitoring, it had not allowed any time for consultation.

The deadline for responses is 7 December.

Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, told IT Pro  that it was fairly clear that the Home Office had acted at the last minute and only becauseit had been coerced

Killock said the consultation page had not been advertised and was not linked to from the Home Office consultation page.

In what he dubbed as the latest incident in a series of Home Office botches regarding Phorm, the Home Office had not publicised the changes in the law probably because they want to rush through a decision to meet the EU’s deadlines.