Phorm protestors picket BT AGM

Walking the streets to protest against data pimping


Attendees at BT's Annual General Meeting today will have to run the gauntlet of an anti-Phorm protest outside the event at the Barbican, London.

Protestors will hear from Baroness Miller, who is tomorrow meeting the Home Office to outline her objections to BT's trial of the snooping technology without informing users.

BT conducted two trials with Phorm which gave the former spyware company access to thousands of BT customers' browsing history without telling them. Phorm aims to use anonymised browsing information to sell more targeted advertising. BT insists the secret trial was legal, even though it appears to breach UK wiretap laws.

The secret trial came to light when Reg reader Stephen noticed his browser making unauthorised connections with a server he didn't recognise. He contacted BT and was told the server had nothing to do with them and he had probably picked up some malware. BT denied having done any deal with Phorm, although Phorm admitted the server was theirs and was being used to collect browsing information.

Despite legal concerns, the Information Commissioner's Office, the Home Office and several police forces have all passed the buck when asked if they would investigate the trials. Several other ISPs other than BT have shown an interest in the technology and potential new revenue stream.

But campaigner Alex Hanff, who helped organise the protest, has a meeting later today with City of London police. Hanff will hand over a dossier of evidence to police so they can consider whether charges should be brought.

Alex Hanff told the Register: "It's not quite as busy as we hoped. But we've had a very positive reaction from shareholders and have been handing out flyers. We've got at least one person inside the meeting who might get to ask a question."

An e-petition on the 10 Downing Street website has already gained more than 15,000 signatures.

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