The European Commission has launched proceedings against the UK in relation to the controversial Phorm online advertising system.

Following several complaints from internet users, the Commission is to open an infringement proceeding against authorities after assessing the country’s response to the service.

A secret trial of the behavioural advertising technology was launched last year by BT.

The Commission suggests that there are “structural problems” in the way in which EU legislation regarding confidentiality in the communications sector has been implemented in the UK.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding, said: “I call on the UK authorities to change their national laws and ensure that national authorities are duly empowered and have proper sanctions at their disposal to enforce EU legislation on the confidentiality of communications.

“This should allow the UK to respond more vigorously to new challenges to ePrivacy and personal data protection such as those that have arisen in the Phorm case.”

Commissioner Reding highlighted her commitment to online privacy in a video blog posted on her official website this week, in which she said all Europeans have a right to privacy and member states have a duty to ensure new technology respects this.

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