NEWS8 April 2011

CPS rules out private prosecution over BT’s Phorm trials

Legal UK

UK— The Crown Prosecution Service has ruled out a private prosecution of internet service provider BT and ad technology firm Phorm over secret trials of targeted advertising software.

BT tested the Phorm technology, which tracks a user’s internet browsing habits to match them with relevant ads, in 2006 and 2007 without informing its customers.

The matter was looked into by the City of London Police following a complaint from internet privacy campaigner Alexander Hanff – who has since taken the matter to the CPS – but no action was taken.

Today, the CPS rejected Hanff’s call for a private prosecution, saying there was insufficient evidence to suggest that there was premeditation to commit an offence and that given the “considerable” legal advice obtained by both BT and Phorm, it could be argued that any crime that had been committed was a “genuine mistake”.