Home Office under fire for Phorm 'botch job'

The Government has been criticised for its handling of a consultation it has launched into UK communications interception laws.

Internet privacy

The Home Office has come under fire for its attempts to close a loophole in UK law exposed by the Phorm furore of 2009.

Last year, privacy groups criticised BT's trialling of Phorm's behavioural advertising software and the European Commission called for the UK to change its laws.

The Government now faces legal action from Brussels over the case and has issued a consultation over proposed changes to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which covers communications interception.

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

Despite the Home Office's moves, 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.

The deadline for responses is 7 December.

"Yes, it's good the Home Office is doing something but it's clear they've acted at the last minute possible and only because they've been coerced," Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, told IT PRO.

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

"They haven't publicised it probably because they want to rush a decision to meet the EU's deadlines. That's really not acceptable. Consultations are absolutely necessary."

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"This is the latest incident a series of Home Office botches regarding Phorm."

A Home Office spokesperson told IT PRO: "The consultation is not public, but is targeted at certain groups and interested parties."

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