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Summary:

The European Commission has told Britain to change its laws, after concluding it incorrectly applied European rules in allowing the go-ahead…

The European Commission has told Britain to change its laws, after concluding it incorrectly applied European rules in allowing the go-ahead of controversial behavioural ad targeter Phorm, which will monitor an ISP customer’s every web click to better target ads on partner websites.

The EC’s complaint (see statement) seems to disagree with the Home Office’s interpretation of what constitutes “intentional” interception of communications traffic – something allowed under UK law. The commission lodged an “infringement proceeding” on Tuesday, giving the UK two months to respond – if not satisfied, it could publish an “opinion” on the matter (more serious, but so far quite toothless) and finally could file suit in the European Court of Justice.

EC telecoms and media commissioner Viviane Reding said the UK had not properly implemented Europe’s 2002 ePrivacy Directive:

  1. The British government takes a sloppy approach to personal privacy? Quelle surprise!

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  2. I work in Social Media in Brussels. There is a trend in European culture and legal actions towards protection of private personal data, whereas in North American online culture and legal structure, the trend is more towards the protection of online copyright and content ownership and credit. I think that the UK, already an EU Member State with a history of several concerns regarding State sovereignty being superseded by EU institutions, may have finally forced a real show down with the European Court of Justice. The UK has been there before (over maintaining the UK measurements, of all things: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_Martyr), and struck a "let's do both UK and EU labeling". But this time, I think it will be much harder to strike a compromise. You can't maintain privacy while not maintaining it.

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