Home Office accused of Phorm collusion

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The UK Home Office has been accused of being in bed with Phorm after emails have come to light that show the government asking if the ad-targeting firm would be “comforted” by its position.

The Home Office appears to have been in discussion with the company over the advice it was drawing up for the public in relation to targeted advertising, though it has denied that it has provided “any advice to Phorm directly relating to possible criminal liability for the operation of their advertising platform in the UK”.

The emails, which were obtained by a member of the public following a freedom of information request, show Phorm repeatedly asking the department if it “has no objection to the marketing and operation of the Phorm product in the UK”.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on Home Affairs, Baroness Sue Miller, said:

“My jaw dropped when I saw the Freedom of Information exchanges. The fact the Home Office asks the very company they are worried is actually falling outside the laws whether the draft interpretation of the law is correct is completely bizarre.”

Meanwhile, the company has launched a website – http://www.stopphoulplay.com/ – which it says aims to stop the misinformation surrounding the technology.

Phorm (via BBC)

Digital Britain report: a summary

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So, the Government has just released its Digital Britain green paper. It discusses a number of
different things that the government wants to do for the future of Britain’s digital industry, ranging from telecoms, through radio, television, broadband and, as we discussed this morning, intellectual property.

It’s an interesting read. There’s some positive aspects, and some negative ones. Some bits of the report are very ambitious, but others show no ambition at all. I’ll go through each sector in order over the break.

Commission urges action over nanotechnology pollution

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Here’s something new for the tabloids to get angry about without understanding. The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has recommended “urgent regulatory action” over the microscopic materials present in sun creams, sports clothing and medicine.

The commission warns that although hundreds of consumer products are already in the marketplace that use nanoparticles, we have an ‘almost complete lack of knowledge’ regarding their long-term effects on human health and the environment. The report says many nanoparticles are so poorly understood that scientists don’t even know how to check their safety.