The European Commission (EC) has opened an infringement proceeding against the UK, prompted by complaints from internet users about the use of Phorm technology by ISPs.
Phorm has been a source of controversy for some time. It produces something the EC refers to as "behavioural advertising technology", which allows content, such as advertising, to be tailored to the unique interests of the end-user, as calculated from their online activity.
The controversy lies in how Phorm gathers information about end-users and whether it breaches privacy laws in order to do so. The UK on the whole is the subject of this infringement proceeding as its laws are apparently considered to insufficiently protect the privacy of the individual.
"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," said EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding. "I call on the UK authorities to change their national laws and ensure that national authorities are duly empowered and have proper sanctions at their disposal to enforce EU legislation on the confidentiality of communications.
"This should allow the UK to respond more vigorously to new challenges to ePrivacy and personal data protection such as those that have arisen in the Phorm case. It should also help reassure UK consumers about their privacy and data protection while surfing the internet."
Phorm's own website shows the scars of all the attention it has received, missing no opportunity to stress how fanatically devoted to user privacy it is. There's even a lengthy presentation showing how it goes about it.
Are you pleased that this kind of technology is coming under such scrutiny or do you think Phorm is doing enough to protect our privacy? Let us know in the HEXUS.community discussion forums.