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A number of leading names in the UK broadband market could be breaking the law, it has emerged.

The Foundation for Information Policy Research (Fipr) has published an open letter objecting to internet service providers sharing information with advertising service Phorm.

BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media are the three companies which, Fipr says, are due to begin advertising via Phorm in the near future.

However, as the service requires personal information about the user in order to serve targeted advertisements, the foundation warns that it could be in breach of data protection legislation.

Nicholas Bohm, general counsel at Fipr, says: "The need for both parties to consent to interception in order for it to be lawful is an extremely basic principle within the legislation."

The letter argues that sharing search queries with a third party is potentially contentious as the terms entered could indicate the religious beliefs or medical history of the user.

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