The short arm of the law

thumb_white.gif‘Aren’t your policeman wonderful’, this is a common refrain from tourists to the UK who find out that you can ask a Bobby for directions without being shot. 

The above may be true, however the latest news on police behaviour following the investigation of the secret use of Phorm by BT is alarming. The case has been dropped for what some consider to be spurious reasons according to a report by the BBC.
BT trialled the Phorm system – which monitors web browsing habits in order to better target ads – without the consent of users last summer. 

Angry users handed over a dossier of evidence to the police following the telco’s July annual general meeting.’
With the police concluding no case to answer it may be that the regulators in the EU will come to the aid of the citizenry of Britain.

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Ian, the reference to Police shooting tourists is a little trite. You might be on safer ground substituting "Youth" for "Policeman/Bobby" and "knifed to death" for "shot" or "IT Consultant" and "another botched Government IT project" Doubtless the City of London Police took advice from the DPP or CPS. It's not about behaviour rather about how the relevant points of law have been interpreted. It's a difference of opinion and I can't see a problem with the EU clarifying if it has jurisdiction.
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The decision by the police not to investigate suggests that in the UK, you have no right as a business or consumer, to expect to conduct private point to point data communication with security/integrity/confidentiality. SSL was only meant to stop crooks getting access to credit card data. Not as a privacy measure to protect against communication companies. If the EC don't step in, this situation will profoundly affect the conduct of electronic commerce and data commication in the UK. What's to stop BT gifting details of transactions and browsing on Maplin.co.uk to Dabs.com? The police won't help. ICO don't care. Ofcom think its ICO's problem. The medium term worry is the threat to other methods of point to point data communication, some of which are more difficult to protect (through lack of popular encryption standards). Email, and VOIP for example. This government has shot itself in the foot if it thinks aiding BT, covering up the Home Office/BERR involvement, or whitewashing this scandal will restore customer confidence. The effect is likely to be the exact opposite.
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@Jason - I may have been trite however the point was the UK public in general trusts the police - which I think is positive. The issue as @Pete succinctly puts it about trust and there is certainly not enough of that around at the moment.
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