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BT forces closure of non-BT ADSL checker

Claims Data Protection Act infringement

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A software developer from Suffolk has been forced to shut down his ADSL availability checker following legal threats from BT that making the information available breached the Data Protection Act.

Although based on BT's own ADSL availability checker, Dan Lane's line checker was able to provide more technical data after he obtained information he claims is freely available from some ISPs.

BT disputes this, claiming the information was "published in error by one of our resellers".

BT wrote to Mr Lane calling on him to stop making the information available, alleging that his checker was in breach of section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998, which "makes it an offence knowingly to obtain or disclose personal data".

On Monday, they sent him a letter from the telco's legal department calling on him to stop.

Said the letter: "BT seeks to keep confidential the details of products that our customers take from us. Using BT confidential information that was published in error by one of our resellers, it appears that you have been providing access to such information.

The letter asked for Mr Lane to stop doing so.

A defiant Mr Lane claimed what he was doing was "perfectly legal" and called on BT to explain why he was being singled out when the information was available elsewhere.

Now, though, his access to the information has been blocked and Mr Lane has little choice but to dismantle his ADSL line checker.

"I'm pretty pissed off," he told The Register. "I tried to work with BT on this. Although they’ve shut me down, the information is still out there and is still available."

BT declined to comment directly on the case. Instead, a spokesman for the monster telco said: "BT has worked with the Information Commissioner to ensure all the responses on our bt.com/broadband availability checker are compliant with the Data Protection Act.

"We are currently investigating Data Protection Act issues surrounding the accessing and possible misuse of information without BT's consent.

"We are seeking to resolve any issues appropriately and prevent any further breach of data protection legislation," he said. ®

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