Virgin Media Phorm

March 13, 2008

Tried to get in touch with Virgin Media today to discuss Phorm with them. Thought it would make for an interesting conversation. Having found `a number` on their website, I called, went through the usual array of button pushes and listened to the usual idiotic `soothing` tones of the computerised agent, assuring me that `everything was OK` and that `my call was valued`…and finally (once I had selected the broadband support number) was told that there is now a new number for this, which costs 25 pence per minute, 10p to connect….but don’t worry, becuase if it transpires to be THEIR FAULT, then they will refund you! Oh well, that’s OK then…. So what happens to your money in the meantime? They make a killing from it, that’s what. So anyway, seems they aren’t overly keen on speaking to their broadband users – it’s almost as if once they have your money and a contract with you, they couldn’t care less! Anyway, as I’m not a complete fucking muppet I am not going to line their pockets any more, so I will write. Results will be posted here if and when I get them… expect the usual raft of denials, ignorance and placations from %insert corporation name here% prior to any real substantive discussions.

Below is a list of the Key issues with regards to Phorm. Please refer to the register for more in depth articles.

Privacy – Privacy in our private lives and communications are protected under human rights. Privacy of communications is also protected in the UK under Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

RIPA – RIPA requires that in order for an interception of communication without a warrant to be lawful; consent from all parties must be obtained (which includes the person sending the http request and the owner of the web site).

Opt In by Default – This is unlawful under the Data Protection Act which states consent must be given before information is processed relating to any person if that information is not required as part of the process to provide a contractual service. It is also not permitted for data about any person to be passed onto a 3rd party without that persons consent.

What the Home Office sayIn a statement released by the Home Office it is stated that:

The implied consent of a web page host (as indicated in
paragraph 15 above) may stand in the absence of any specific express
consent.

Whereas the Home Office are not sure if Phorm may have an argument under law for implied consent, they do make it clear that such an argument would only be applicable if there is no “specific expressed consent”.
(source Home Office Statement)

This Campaign?

Well based on the Home Office information above it seems the easiest way to guarantee that Phorm are making a criminal breach of RIPA is to simply add expressed terms refusing consent for Phorm to intercept any communications between your website and your users.

So that is the point of this single entry blog; to try and encourage web publishers to add terms to their website refusing consent for Phorm to intercept any communications between their website and users.

If we can get enough people to add these terms, it is very likely that criminal charges will be able to be brought against Phorm for interception of communications under RIPA. This is important because it sends a clear message to the corporate world that their customer’s personal data is not a commodity and will be fiercely protected.

Due to the negative press over the past couple of weeks Phorms stock prices have fallen dramatically, so please help to Deny Phorm and add terms to your website now.

Alexander Hanff (visit http://denyphorm.blogspot.com/)

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