Author Archives: WinstonSmith

The erosion of freedom – Government to decide who is allowed mobile phones?

(Note: all views expressed are SOLELY those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Mobileshop.com)

Passports soon to be needed to buy mobile phonesMobile phones have always been a particular target of the tin-foil-hatted brigade, as Technical Markus would call them, the ones who believe mobile phone masts control our thoughts using microwaves. The problem with focusing on downright strange theories like that, however, is that you miss the very real privacy issue we now face.

As reported by The Times Online, the government have announced that they plan to implement a law so that you have to present a passport or other official ID, in order to buy even a pay as you go mobile phone, the reason being that, according to Whitehall, pay as you go mobile phones are what ‘terrorists’ use to plan their attacks on us.

Before we get to the real meat of the subject, let’s first take a step back, and see what happens now in when you want to buy mobile phones, since, as some people have said, you have to provide those details now when you buy a contract phone. Well, yes, that’s true, but as things stand at the moment, you provide those details for one purpose: to prove you are who you say you are, as an anti-fraud measure. It’s pretty standard policy, and it’s also used in the credit check.

What’s being proposed here, though, is far bigger and far more insidious than that. Yes, the passport will be used to confirm who you are. However, after buying the mobile phone, your details will be entered in the massive central database being pushed in the Communications Data Bill, essentially putting you on a register of mobile phone owners.

If there’s a better phrase than that to make innocent people feel like criminals, I’ve yet to see it…

Needless to say, the quoted reason for this is because ‘terrorists’ (a catch-all term, nowadays, that can be applied as a reason for monitoring anything) buy pay as you go mobile phones with cash, don’t give an ID, plan some atrocity, and then throw the phone away, thus getting away free.

And there we hit the central problem with this new proposal. The proposal is simple: by law, everyone has to provide their ID, and go on a register, when they buy a mobile phone, and therefore, no ‘terrorists’ or criminals can lawfully buy a mobile phone in the UK. So, having a phone without showing your ID card and papers will be against the law.

The snag with this plan should be glaringly obvious to just about anyone:

Criminals don’t obey the law. That’s basically the job description.

So, what we’re faced with is a proposal that not only won’t stop ‘terrorists’ and master-villains (which is seemingly what people like Jacqui Smith and Geoff Hoon think Britain is filled with) from obtaining mobile phones, but will make innocent people feel criminalised for wanting to buy one. I can’t help but think such a system has things slightly backwards, there, and I rather strongly suspect people will wonder why only naughty people can easily get mobile phones.

That, of course, leads on to the next snag, and one that can’t have escaped people’s notice: what do people want to do if they want to buy mobile phones, but don’t have a passport? Say your gran wants a mobile phone for emergencies, and just wants a pay as you go phone, rather than spending her entire pension on a contract she will never use? Ah, but she doesn’t have a passport, or driving licence. Sorry, gran, the government says you can’t have a mobile phone, presumably since you’re a potential ‘terrorist’ threat.

Does this idea seem absurd to anyone else?

Now, people may argue that I’m being paranoid, but I’m going to suggest that once we’re all on this register, then we can forget any old-fashioned notions of privacy. Whitehall will have instant access to everyone’s phone number, and tracking technology can pinpoint mobile phones to within a few hundred feet, nowadays. So, they’d also instantly have a record of where we are. Combine that with the possibility of the marketing software Technical Markus wrote about last week, that eavesdrop on you 24/7, being co-opted to listen and record all of your conversations, and it makes for a genuinely frightening picture.

I have no doubt that a fair few people will call me paranoid. But I urge you to consider two things. First, consider how interception and anti-terror laws have been used so far, to convict people of littering, letting their dogs foul on the street. Oh, and to implement the now-infamous freeze on Icelandic banks not to mention the arrest of Walter Wolfgang for heckling at a Labour conference. Notably, you may have spotted, none of those things have anything to do with ‘terrorism’.

One can’t help but assume that these new proposals around mobile phones will similarly not stop at what’s being suggested.

Secondly, consider transport secretary Geoff Hoon’s appearance on Question Time, last week, where he infamously said he’s prepared to go ‘quite a long way, actually’ in undermining people’s civil liberties, to ‘stop terrorists killing people’, and that ‘the biggest civil liberty of all is not to be killed by a terrorist’… which in itself is a massively inaccurate piece of spin, since a quick glance at Wiki will show you that, ‘Civil liberties are freedoms that protect the individual from the government. Civil liberties set limits for government so that it cannot abuse its power and interfere with the lives of its citizens,’ something completely opposite to what Geoff Hoon said…

Still, there is hope. Not only has the UK’s top prosecutor now publicly stated that state powers of monitoring and control are going too far, but every opposition party is calling the plans ‘Orwellian’. But that’s not all, some of the most vociferous opposition has come from senior officials within the Home Office. It would seem that not everyone at Whitehall is behind the plans, with officials within the Home Office calling them impractical, disproportionate and potentially unlawful.

It’s fairly easy to predict the reactions of the major mobile phone networks in this instance, as well, since it will potentially lose them a VAST number of customers, more than any ‘credit crunch’ ever could. In fact, mobile phone stalwarts Vodafone, the UK’s oldest mobile network, have already stuck their heads above the parapet and stated:

‘Vodafone does not support mandatory registration for its pre-pay customers and has not made any ‘contingency plans’ to start requiring registration for the purposes of a Government data collection scheme.

PAYG services hold an important role in terms of preventing a digital divide in communications. There is no need for a credit check and if customers do not have a permanent base, or a passport, they are not excluded from using these services.’

(Source: The Register)

It would seem they too have realised that these plans won’t actually do a great deal to prevent genuine security threats, and instead will have the mass effect of denying people who really need mobile phones having any access to them.

Finally, even if the zealous supporters of these plans within Whitehall do believe that the country is full of ‘terrorists’ and that unless they legislate mobile phones, our whole way of life is threatened, I would like to quote two incredibly influential people on the issue of freedom. Neither of them are the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, that runs ‘they who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security’, although it definitely applies here.

As Henry Bolingbroke, better known as King Henry IV, said, ‘Liberty is to the collective body, what health is to every individual body. Without health no pleasure can be tasted by man; without liberty, no happiness can be enjoyed by society.’

However, the final word goes to Abraham Lincoln, as it is surely the most poignant reminder of what we could lose:

‘Freedom is the last, best hope of earth.’

Grab your mobile phones now, before the government start penalising people without a passport!

2008 Ofcom Report – does it REALLY say you should pay to receive calls on your mobile phone?

(Note: all views expressed are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Mobileshop.com)

Ofcom consider mobile phone termination chargesThere’s been a bit of a furore brewing over the weekend, after the publishing of a report by Ofcom, the big body who oversee the mobile phones and general communications industries. And it’s been a big shouting match, because many people have jumped on the idea that Ofcom are saying people should pay to receive calls on their mobile phones.

Yes, you heard that right.

However, the big question is, is that actually what the report says, or are people jumping to conclusions? Are Ofcom genuinely suggesting that you should pay to be phoned by someone else?

We need to have our rational heads on, to see what the report actually says.

Ok, that’s a very long report. One-hundred and sixty-six pages of it, in fact, so I won’t subject you to it, here (lest this become the longest blog post in history), but I will give you the link to the report (be aware, it’s a pdf file), so you can check it out for yourselves (hint: read section 8). But, I’ll summarise the main points for you:

  1. The current regulations for the way mobile call charges are handled is due to end in 2011.
  2. The world of mobile phones is changing, and new thinking is needed.
  3. It’s getting harder to guarantee where calls will be originating from, or going to. (I dispute that; how many times do you ring someone other than family, to your mates down the pub?)
  4. The EU reckon the model that will give customers the most benefit is sharing the costs between the caller and the person receiving the call, just like in America.

And that last one is what people are picking up on, and saying that Ofcom are suggesting people should pay to receive calls. If that is true, is the model the EU are mulling over the best way for mobile phones to go? Will customers get more benefit from having to pay to receive calls they never wanted in the first place (and if you haven’t guessed my feelings on it, from that question, you’re not paying attention)? Ok, I may not be able to comment about the European model, as I don’t use mobile phones over there, but the American one I can discuss.

You see, in the good ol’ US of A, there’s a reason why the person being called has to pay. Mobile phones in America don’t have a specific mobile-only format of number, like we do, with the 07 at the start. American mobile numbers are made of an area code, and the number. Or, in other words, they look just like American landline numbers. So, if you make a phone call in the USA, you have no real way of knowing whether it’s a mobile phone or a landline, and thus, you should only pay a fixed rate, based on whether it’s a local or national call.

The other person, the one you’re ringing, pays to receive your call, then. Let’s just say, I’ve spoken to many good friends in America, and the words most associated with that system are “stupid” and “retarded” (their words, not mine).

So, anyway, paying to receive calls in the UK. Is it being pushed as the way forward? Well, Ofcom don’t explicitly say that, but they make it pretty plain they’re thinking about it. It would be a shame if it happened, because I can’t think of a better way to cripple and kill the mobile industry in this country.

And what about people who use a pay as you go mobile phone? What if you only keep your phone for emergencies, and you run out of credit? Well, best hope no-one wants to ring you, because, if we do move to similar model to America, you won’t be able to receive any calls if you don’t have credit, making your mobile phone useful only as doorstop and/or cudgel.

Put it this way… I love mobile phones. Not as much as Technical Markus, as he will tell you, but I can’t do without mine. But if I had to pay to receive calls, mine would get binned…

So, what do you do? Well, make your voice heard! Get onto the Ofcom site, since they’ve invited consultation, and make absolutely sure you say no to paying to receive calls. Make it abundantly clear how many people will bin their mobile if they do start doing it. Use your voice to show Ofcom how you feel.

And you’d best get yourself a new mobile phone deal, before these changes even get pushed!

Phorm and Webwise – the EC says system that will watch you online may be illegal under European Law

phorm’s legality under european lawThe scandal about Phorm and Webwise continues apace, as the EC are now wading into the fray. As a growing number of people have heard or read about, Phorm is an online marketing company, promoting a product, Webwise, to ISP’s in the UK, designed to deliver targeted ads to those ISPs’ customers. However, they target those adverts based on your browsing habits, and they do that by intercepting and monitoring your private web traffic, giving them the potential to see everything you do online, as well as your private details, private emails, your bank details if you bank online, and so on (note, this has been confirmed by their own people, who said in an American press conference that they can, in fact, see the whole internet!)

Plus, let’s not forget that it’s entirely feasible that such a system could easily be applied (and probably would be, if the online version goes ahead) to the mobile phones you’re using, as I’ve stated before. Imagine a system like that; it can read your messages, find out what you like, and send you ads about it. And if your mobile phone has GPS, you could even be sent ads for the local pizza parlour or newsagent, since, hey, they know exactly where you are.

In a society where free speech is supposed to be paramount, and one of our inalienable rights, a situation that scares people into not speaking freely (because Big Brother would be watching you) is simply intolerable. Both the internet and mobile phones are designed to let us freely communicate, to let us express free thought, not to keep us in a cage, afraid of speaking out, lest our words are heard and used against us.

But if you’ve read the title of this post, then you’ll see that there may well be hope at the end of this rollercoaster ride. It’s quite simply the most important thing to happen in the Phorm / Webwise scandal so far. I’ll paste the entire statement from the EC, as it makes for illuminating reading, but to summarise the one, hugely important message in the statement:

According to the European Commission, Phorm and Webwise allegedly breach European laws about privacy and human rights, making them illegal.

I can’t say it any simpler than that. According to the statement from the EC, European laws and directives exist to prohibit “listening, tapping, storage or other kinds of interception or surveillance of communication and the related traffic data by persons other than the users without their consent, which must be freely given, specific and informed indication of the user’s wishes.”

In other words, they exist to stop people spying on you when you use the internet or mobile phones (Needless to say, the same goes for mobile broadband).

Not only are Phorm and Webwise morally and ethically questionable, in my opinion, but according to those EC laws, without EXPLICIT consent (in other words, Opt-Out is NOT good enough), they run the risk of being illegal. Which means the covert trials run by Phorm and any ISP’s involved (let’s face it, there could have been more than one, and we wouldn’t necessarily know) were, following that definition, ‘illegal’, because no matter how much they anonymised the data, people’s private data streams were intercepted without their consent. Hence why it is very easy to interpret from the EC statement, such as commentator Alex Hanff and legal counsel Nicholas Bohm have both done, that those trials were illegal.

That’s obviously a matter for the courts, NOT me, to decide, but let’s not forget that in a recent case in Germany, the high court killed a similar plan by the German government to snoop on people’s online activities (although, I confess, I can’t confirm whether that’s just for online activity, or whether it extends to mobile phones as well). The court’s decision was final: that kind of interception and surveillance was both oppressive and illegal. And if it’s already been ruled illegal in one EU country…

The EC statement goes further, though, clearly stating that if the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) does not deal with this situation satisfactorily, then it will step in, and act on the case.

This cannot come soon enough, as it’s a massive worry to me, to you, and to anyone who values both their privacy and security, The only way we can guarantee our privacy and security is if Phorm and Webwise do NOT go ahead. Being in a world where government ministers tell you to keep your identity safe with one breath, whilst actively egging on a system that makes it EASIER to steal your identity (from your internet use or your mobile phones) with the other, is not a world any of us want too live in. Even if Phorm have the best intentions in the world, they can NEVER guarantee our data wouldn’t identify us, and can NEVER guarantee it wouldn’t be hacked into, to let someone use your identity.

But before I conclude , let’s clear something up; I’m not against marketing per se. With opt-in systems, you’ve got a real chance to actually benefit the customer. If I, or you, say YES to a newsletter, then that’s cool, that means we want to be told about products, because there’s a reasonable chance they might make our lives better. Take Technical Markus, for example. He’s signed himself up to LOTS of drumming newsletters, because it benefits him. He’s opted-in, and that’s cool, no-one has any problem with that. There’s a world of difference between marketing to customers because they’ve told you they want that info, and telling your customers they have to have it, and it’s good for them, and they shouldn’t think about it themselves!

So, if I say NO to it, I don’t want my personal life to be watched, monitored, categorised, numbered and sold to the highest bidder. I don’t want my info stored in a database that can be hacked at all (no matter how unlikely hacking it is). I don’t want to lead a life where I’m wondering who’s listening to me speak on my mobile phone, or tracking me with GPS, or reading my emails to a friend, before categorising me as a terrorist, because I said a film ‘bombed’ at the box office.

Do you?

No?

Then we’d all better hope that the ICO and the EC act in the UK’s best interests, indeed the best interests of everyone in the UK’s population, and declare, that Phorm and Webwise are indeed illegal. It’ll start with the internet and mobile phones, but after that, it’s just one long slippery slope to us living in a George Orwell novel…

Full text of EC Statement on Phorm and Webwise (source, plus analysis by Alex Hanff can be found at p2p.net):

“The Comission is aware of the activities of the company Phorm in the UK, concerning the analysis of internet traffic for advertising purposes, the agreement between Phorm and major internet service providers in the UK and the concerns that have been raised about the effects on privacy of these activities.

Privacy and the protection of personal data are fundamental rights of the citizens of the EU. They are enshrined in articles 7 and 8 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and also protected by the European Convention on Human Rights and the related instruments of the Council fo Europe, to which all EU Member States are signatories.

The general principles of personal data are defined in Directive 95/46/EC and complemented and particularised for electronic communications by Directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic communications (ePrivacy Directive). The ePrivacy Directive obliges Member States to ensure the confidentiality of communications and related traffic data through national legislation.

In particular, they shall prhobit listening, tapping, storage or other kinds of interception or surveillance of communication and the related traffic data by persons other than the users without their consent, which must be freely given, specific and informed indication of the user’s wishes. The data concerned in this particular matter i.e. the content of search queries, constitute communication within the meaning of this Directive and the URLs used in the packets constitute traffic data. This data should therefore be protected appropriately.

The responsibility for the enforcement of national legislation transposing EU Directives is with the competent national authorities. The ICO, the UK data protection authority, has issued several statements concerning Phorm. According to press information, the ICO is also investigating in at least one case, where a formal complaint has been made concerning alleged trials of Phorm technology by BT in 2007[3].

The Comission services will continue to follow this case and possible similar developments and take appropriate action, should the need arise.

The Comission confirms its commitment to the protection of privacy and security of electronic communications as one of its top priorities.”

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Phorm and Webwise – research says they’re illegal PLUS how they will make your business go bankrupt

phorm and webwise spyware will kill your businessFollowing on from last week’s story about Phorm and Webwise, some more info’s come to my attention in this whole debacle. I told you all last week about how we are all sleepwalking our way into a world where we have no freedoms, no liberties, and no right to privacy. Today, I’m going to expand that argument further, and show you, beyond reasonable doubt, that what Phorm and Webwise are doing is morally wrong, ethically bad, and very probably illegal under British and European law.

First, we need to get into the legality (or lack of it, which seems more appropriate… ex-spyware-peddlers, don’t forget…) of Phorm and Webwise. Part of the massive furore over the system has been down to whether or not it will be illegal. And this is where the government got involved, specifically the Home Office, by completely turning a blind eye to it. We’ll forget for a second that the government actively WANT the ability to spy on people legitimately, and that it’s entirely likely they’ll force ISP’s to install something similar to Webwise in their own networks (which, by the way, we’ll never be told about).

No, what we need to concentrate on is the FIPR (Foundation for Information Policy Research) response to the Home Office’s turning of a blind eye. On that link you’ll find a couple of open letters, regarding the technical aspects, and more importantly, the legal aspects. However, I’ll sum up the important point for anyone who doesn’t like long-winded mumbo-jumbo and legalese (ie/ normal people like you and me)

Conclusion, drawn from the FIPR legal analysis
PHORM AND WEBWISE ARE TOTALLY, 100% ILLEGAL UNDER UK LAW. THEY ARE IN BREACH OF DATA PROTECTION LAW, RIPA LEGISLATION AND TRADING STANDARDS/FRAUD LAW.

I’d call that pretty categorical. If one can cite the specific sections of the specific acts Phorm and Webwise are in breach of, one must conclude there are some specific illegalities going on.

Of course, if that’s the case, we all KNOW the government will make amends to data protection law and RIPA to make it not be illegal. They do, after all, want it to happen…

But there’s another aspect to Phorm and Webwise that a forum contributor thought of on BadPhorm (and it’s something I’d never even considered, so my heartfelt thanks go to that guy… well, male or female, and their name, I don’t know, because unlike certain ISP’s I could mention, I respect privacy…), and that’s the very, VERY real possibility that Phorm could put YOUR company out of business.

Let me explain… Say you own an online shop that sells, for sake of argument, mobile phones. A user goes on your site, and Webwise sees (and profiles) that you’re interested in mobile phones. But then, they bombard that user with adverts for mobile phones, and this is the crucial part, FROM SHOPS OTHER THAN YOURS.

So, that user goes off and buys a mobile phone from them, and you lose the sale. Keep that up with every user who visits your site, and very soon, you’ll find that Webwise has turned your profit into loss, and has killed your business.

It’s kind of poignant that this story goes on our blog today, as today is officially the 15th birthday of the internet. 15 years ago today, the first code was laid down in the CERN lab, that would eventually flourish and evolve into the web we have today. Dubbed the creator of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee put down that code 15 years ago, and today, he’s still involved in the web. What does he think of Phorm and Webwise?

No surprise, really, he hates it! And yet Kent Ertugrul, CEO of Phorm, has gone on record to imply Berners-Lee doesn’t understand the technical issues! Erm, hang on, he created the internet, I would imagine he knows a fair bit about it, Kent.

Still, what would you expect from ex-spyware-peddlers? The truth? No, I can’t see that happening.

There are ways to stop Phorm and Webwise (‘Section 10 and Section 11 DPA notices served on your ISP’ springs to mind), outlined in some details over at BadPhorm, and the fight to get this illegal (according to the extensive and well-thought-out FIPR research) system stopped for good will go on. If you like your privacy, you’ll stand up and be counted.

And if not, then have fun when every single one of your communications are wiretapped and spied on, and your business has gone bankrupt, because of Phorm and Webwise…

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Do you have a business that stands to lose money because of Webwise (hint: if you have a business, yes, you do!)? Do you think Phorm are lying about having nothing to hide? Do you think that Phorm and Webwise will kill the internet as we know it? Join in the debate, here!

Phorm, the internet and mobile phones – how we’re sleepwalking into an anti-privacy state

[This blog post is the sole contribution of WinstonSmith, and all views expressed are those of the contributor, and not necessarily the views of MobileShop.com. However, Technical Markus agrees with him, 100%...]

Phorm and mobile phones 1984 imageBy now, you’ve probably heard about an advertising system called Phorm, a system, that profiles web browsing, in order to deliver people ‘targeted advertising’ (and if not, you NEED to read about it… for full info, check out BadPhorm). But why do I think it’s wrong? And why do I think that Britain, as a nation, is sleepwalking into a state where personal liberties and freedoms mean precisely nothing? By now, people should be aware of the company Phorm and their Open Internet Exchange/Webwise advertising system. But you know what? A lot of people aren’t. And one has to wonder whether this is down to people burying their heads in the sand, or people not understanding the implications, and if it’s the second, is someone deliberately misleading them? Let’s look at the evidence…

Well, first of all, there’s little doubt that people, when they do know the issues involved in something, are smart enough to make an informed choice. Just look at the storm of protest that’s rightly been sweeping across the internet in the wake of the Phorm news. People are saying they don’t want it on their broadband connection, and it’s eminently clear that when it’s explained to them, even people who don’t fully understand it soon go, “Hang on, what the hell are you doing with my internet??”

Which leaves us with the nasty possibility that people are deliberately trying to mislead the entire country, to get it active and watching us, without people having a say in the matter. The worrying thing with that idea is that, quite frankly, it’s the most convincing explanation of what we’ve seen. The companies involved, most notably Phorm and BT, clearly don’t want to give us the chance to say no without a lot of hassle, because Phorm’s whole business model falls down if we do! Only the criminally insane, and irredeemably stupid would say yes to a system THAT ACTIVELY SPIES ON THEM.

I’ll say that again, in case anyone’s missed the point. With the Phorm system, they are spying on us. Plain and simple, no weasel words, no marketing speak, they are taking OUR privacy, gleefully tearing it up, and wiping their nose on it. They don’t care about what we think, because human beings like us are just a commodity to them. And frankly, it makes me sick.

“Oh, but we anonymise it, no-one can tell who you are,” they always say. Well, as dubious as that claim is, I couldn’t give two flying figs whether it’s anonymised or not. You, Phorm, BT and anyone else involved, if you’re reading this, are destroying our freedom, our essential liberty. You seem to think you’re above the law and can do what the hell you like. Your arrogance is both galling and astounding. And then, then, you have the bare-faced nerve to say that you’re spying on us for our own good!

And if you want an easier-to-understand example of the implications, here, imagine it’s not your broadband connection, but your phone, and someone is listening in, without your consent, to every single phone call you make. Once they’ve made notes on everything you talk about, they try to sell you things. All using a unique, non-identifiable ID code, of course. Surely I can’t be the only person who can see that ‘unique’ and ‘non-identifiable’ are completely contradictory?

So, why isn’t the government stepping in and stopping this obvious breach of our human rights? Why are they turning a blind eye to you and me and everyone in the UK being spied on?

Has it never occurred to people that just maybe they want the system to go live as much as Phorm do? Imagine politicians rubbing their hands together in glee at the thought of always knowing exactly what we’re saying, seeing, doing and thinking. Even if they don’t use that power to abuse our essential freedoms, do you really trust a group that seems to lose some more critical and private data every other week?? That’s why we’re sleepwalking into a state where we, as humans, become less than human, become a commodity to be bought and sold. This is the thin end of the wedge, if it happens, and if it’s not stopped, we will have no freedom, no rights, no privacy. We will lose everything that makes us human. The right to free speech will go pretty quickly, I would imagine, so good luck posting articles like this in future.

Of course, another standard argument that Phorm and the ISP’s involved uses is that Google already profiles us, to deliver targetted marketing, as if 2 wrongs somehow make a right. Besides, there is a crucial difference. With Google, if we use it, it’s a free service, and it provides a VERY definite service. We as consumers know not to expect a free lunch. We search on Google, Google monitor what we search for. Fair enough, we have the option of using a different search engine if we don’t like that. At least Google aren’t charging users a monthly fee, then trying to tell them it’s a good idea to sell their details and their entire browsing history onto a marketing company with dubious backgrounds (and whose product is formally classed as Spyware by security vendors, despite the mewling protestations Phorm make to the contrary). And with Google, at least they’re looking at ways to ensue users DO have some privacy, in a clear cut way, according to the Financial Times, using ‘crumbled cookies’ and so on.

Phorm don’t even have the common courtesy to do that.

“Oh, your data is anonymised,” they say. “We can’t see everything online, we can’t see encrypted pages.”

And then, not 3 seconds later, their representative in America smugly boasts that they CAN in fact, see everything online, and steal your bank details and all your passwords if they want. In an age where the government are constantly warning people about the dangers of identity theft, the fact that they themselves have buried their heads in the sand, when a company formally sets up a system that will make it EASIER to steal identities, indicates that maybe, just maybe, the government and Her Majesty’s police force actually want this to happen. They want people to willingly give up their freedoms, to bring round the clock surveillance that little bit closer.

And what, you may ask, has this got to do with mobile phones? Well, come on, do you really think they won’t be next? They’re aiming for our broadband at home first. That’ll be Phase 1 in the grand master plan. Phase 2 will be mobile broadband. Phase 3 will be mobile phones. You want evidence? Look at the Blue Book system run by O2, a system that automatically stores all your messages, contacts and so on online, in a database, so that you can access them later. It may have been set up for the best intentions, but you KNOW it’ll store all our calls, next, and it won’t be so WE can access them later…

In conclusion, our very future is under threat. First, from Phorm (a company who, despite their assertions otherwise, were classified as generating Spyware, by security firms such as F-Secure. To my mind, that makes them Spyware-peddlers, no matter what PR-rubbish they spin. You made Adware? Fair enough, I’ll go with the security companies who say you actually made Spyware, thanks very much).

And then one day, we’re going to wake up, with the secret police banging on our door, and wonder where our freedom went…

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Join the debate, and say what YOU think about Phorm, before it’s too late!