This story is from the category Legal
Date posted: 14/04/2009
The European Union started legal action against Britain on Tuesday for not applying EU data privacy rules that would restrict an Internet advertising tracker called Phorm from watching how users surf the Web.
The regulators also warned that they could force social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace to hide minors' profiles from search engines.
The European Commission said Britain should outlaw Internet traffic interception and monitoring unless users give explicit consent that their behavior can be tracked and analyzed.
It said it had received numerous complaints about BT Group PLC, which tested Phorm's service in 2006 and 2007 without informing customers involved in the trial. Phorm analyzes Internet users' behavior so it can display ads that might appeal to them.
"Such a technology in the view of the European Commission and European data protection law can only be used with the prior consent of the user," said EU spokesman Martin Selmayr.
Regulators sent a first legal warning to Britain on Tuesday, asking it to explain or change the way it interprets EU rules because it currently allows interception when it is unintentional or when a tracker has "reasonable grounds" to believe that consent was given.
Britain has two months to reply. The European Commission can issue more warnings before it can take a government to an EU court where it may be ordered to change national law or face daily fines.
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