BT vexed over porn block legality

porn-2BT chiefs are growing increasingly nervous about the Government’s plans to introduce an online porn blocking system, after reportedly seeking legal advice on the issue.
According to a report in the Financial Times, the telecoms company wants to know how surveillance laws would apply to the filtering of content. The issue is a delicate matter for BT as the company already has what is commonly known as “previous”.
Back in 2008, BT ran into trouble with the Crown Prosecution Service and the European Commission when it launched targeted advertising trials through software firm Phorm. The technology intercepted and monitored the web activity of BT customers to help match ads to the interests of users, but sparked privacy fears. The case was eventually dropped but not before a costly legal battle.
Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), the interception of communications is generally prohibited. It is only legal to intrude on private communications if you have a warrant or both the sender and recipient of information consent to the activity, even if the interception is done unintentionally.
A BT spokeswoman said: “BT executives met with Oliver Letwin MP recently to discuss a range of policy issues. During this meeting, the issue of filters came up and we expressed a view that greater legal clarity would be welcome given external legal advice we have received. We have made this point several times during the past year as it is important that any plans are practical and not unintentionally derailed.”
The porn block plan is not without its critics, however, with some experts claiming it simply will not work, while others believe it could harm legitimate online businesses.

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