Friday, 23 July 2010

Letter to Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2

Dated 23 July 2010:

Thank you for your response.

The devices I have personally used to confirm that data modification is taking place are an iPhone and iPad. However, I have received confirmation from other users that that modifications are taking place for mobile broadband users using laptops as well, and I know that many of the practices are also occurring for users with other mobile phone devices.

In specific reference to the UK Government web site. The UK government web site uses the SWFObject JavaScript library which is made available under an MIT license which requires that the license is distributed with the software. It uses the jQuery JavaScript library which is also distributed under a joint MIT and GPL Version 2 license. I believe the GPL license prohibits the software being combined with any other software or modified. There are other works also used by the UK Government web site.

Currently, as far as I can tell, the O2 mobile network is running a caching proxy server which is combining JavaScript libraries into the main HTML source of web pages and removing copyright messages. I believe, and the informal advice I have received would confirm that this action is in contravention of the licensing terms. As it is O2 that are doing this then I believe that O2 is breaking the law. I should also make clear that I referred to the UK Government web site to try to ensure that my email was not ignored. These practices are being applied to every web site as far as I can tell, so there will be literally millions of other examples.

However, the broader and arguably more serious issue is the fact that O2 has a practice of modifying any data passing through their network between senders and receivers without notifying either party of the changes that are being made. Even when I tried to find out what was happening I was told by your technical department that they *did* compress data but that they were not legally required to give any detail of what they did. (I should add that this statement was misleading as they do a lot more than just compress data, they also change and remove data). In other words, even if I ask, I am not told what O2 are doing to my data.

I believe that this practice may nullify the contractual obligations of every customer of O2's mobile data services at the present time.

Finally, I refer you to European legislation being formed around 'net neutrality' <> and curently being considered by Ofcom. The Vice President of the European Commission said: "Transparency is non-negotiable. This is already addressed in the new regulatory framework, but the principle is worth re-stating: in a complex system like the internet, it must be crystal clear what the practices of operators controlling the network mean for all users, including consumers."

Kind regards,

Stuart Roebuck.


Anonymous said...

Still no response?

Stuart Roebuck said...

I've now posted an update to the story.

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