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The Orange road to personal data protection

Norton? You want me to use Norton? On a phone?

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We'd be the last people to accuse Orange of not having its act together as far as personal data is concerned, but at least some of the people who work for the company seem to be a little bit fuzzy on the subject. What, for example, would you think if a refurb phone you were given had all of the contacts of the previous user still on it?

That's precisely what happened to a Register reader earlier today. He's not particularly happy about being forced to take a refurb Nokia 7650 in exchange for a defective one, but it was either that or the long trading standards battle, most mobile phone outlets in the UK seem to take a similarly pugnacious line, and anyway that's another story.

In this story the replacement contained contacts, pictures and SMS messages. This could of course have been an isolated incident, but one might also speculate that the refurb departments of the phone outfits haven't yet grasped that phone handsets contain data in growing amounts, and that data erasure should therefore go along with the refurbishment process.

Our informant called the helpdesk for advice, and was told to reset the phone. He responded that this would simply reset the phone, not delete the data. But that's not the point anyway - shouldn't they be just a little bit worried about having carelessly redistributed personal data for one of their customers, and maybe a bit more worried that it could turn out to be more than one?

We're pretty confident that this sort of thing happens frequently, and we're certain it'd be a good idea if it stopped happening, fast. So, anybody else get something interesting on their refurbished phone? And if so, which company did you get it from? ®

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