Information Commissioner's Office - Freedom of Information Requests

Personal Conclusions

  • BT & Phorm did not advise ICO in advance about the trials in 2006/7
  • ICO have failed to demonstrate independent regulation, relying heavily on BT for their conclusion
  • ICO have not adequately investigated the trials of 2006, and particularly the much larger trial in 2007
  • ICO have not sought any technical data from BT during their investigation
  • ICO have not sought independent It industry expertise, and do not have sufficient IT expertise themselves to assess Phorm;

"The ICO has not contacted any independent IT experts for their view on Webwise since being made aware of the 2007 trials on 10 March 2007 [8?]. The ICO are not technical experts so encouraged Phorm to be transparent and directly engage with technical experts to address concerns raised by such experts about the safeguards and nature of the Webwise product"

  • ICO don't consider Phorms Unique Identifier to be a personal identifier, though it is clearly intended to uniquely identify a specific individual (like a social security number)
  • ICO ignore that fact that it is technically impossible to anonymise a large volume of text data (such as web traffic) reliably or adequately
  • ICO ignore the fact that processing personal web traffic amounts to processing personal data
  • European Commissioners and the Head of the European Data Protection Unit have similarly been fooled into believing Phorm, effectively mass communication interception, was some kind of 'privacy enhancing technology'. Your privacy is never enhanced by continuous surveillance.
  • ICO correspondence reveals Simon Watkin of the Home Office was engaged with Phorm for ’some time’ prior to January 2008
  • BT have tried to pull the wool over the Information Commissioners Office, paying lip service to requests for information.

FoI Releases (Reverse Chronological Order)

Supplementary Response Concerning BERR Correspondence (Update 25/10/2008)

The ICO sent a supplementary response, concerning correspondence between ICO and BERR, but claiming the information cannot be disclosed.

Despite David Hendon of BERR being willing to discuss with British Telecom the line taken in response to EC enquiries (revealed on p9 in this third party FoI request), the ICO state the 'European Commission have expressed the view that it would not expect its formal correspondence to the UK Government ... to be disclosed'.

There was a single file of documents

FoI Response, Covering letters (230Kb)


Second Formal Disclosure (Update 2/10/2008)

Scanned documents from the ICO second FoI response to a request for updated documents and correspondence.

There was a single file of documents

FoI Response, Covering letters (4Mb)


First Formal Disclosure (25/6/2008)

Scanned documents from the ICO FoI response to a request for documents and correspondence.

There were three files of documents

FoI Response, Covering letters (9Mb)

Letters from ICO to BT, and BT to ICO (9Mb)

Email Correspondence Batch 1 (6Mb)

Email Correspondence Batch 2 (6Mb)

Email Correspondence Batch 3 (6Mb)

Given the number of pages, it wasn't possible to upload the files at full resolution.

If there are any pages which require a high res scan, rescanning, or you have a special requirement for a full high res copy of the file on CD, send me a message via NoDPI or CableForum and I'll try to help.

Related Third Party FoI Requests