Controversial advertising-targeting firm Phorm and UK ISP BT won't be investigated by police for covertly tracking broadband customers' surfing habits in 'secret' trials last year, according to reports.

Phorm, a system designed to direct relevant online adverts to surfers depending on the sites they visit and keywords they use, has been a source of concern for customers of the ISPs said to be trialling the technology in the UK.

In July, campaigners protested outside BT's annual shareholder meeting and complained to police officers that BT carried out the trials without the consent of customers.

The Register reports that the City of London Police questioned BT Retail executives earlier this month, but has opted against formally investigating the ISP on the grounds that it would be "a waste of public money".

The Reg has published an email sent by detective sergeant Barry Murray to anti-Phorm campaigner Alex Hanff which suggests BT's use of Phorm is designed to improve its service to customers.

"The matter will not be investigated by the City of London Police as it has been decided that no Criminal Offence has been committed," said the email. "One of the main reasons for this decision is the lack of Criminal Intent on behalf of BT and Phorm Inc in relation to the tests. It is also believed that there would have been a level of implied consent from BT's customers in relation to the tests, as the aim was to enhance their products."

Hanff told The Register he was very disappointed with the decision and would be making a formal complaint.

More here.

See also:

Gov't approves controversial Phorm advertising system

BT struggling with controversial Phorm trials