Feeds

Millions opted into UK mobile phone directory

Are you one of them?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

A public mobile phone directory for the UK will launch later this month, loaded with millions of private numbers bought from marketing departments.

From June 18, callers to 118800 will be asked for a first name, a surname and a town*. If a match is found, they will be connected to that person's mobile for £1.

Connectivity, the start-up firm behind the service, says it will never give out numbers or other personal details, and will ask the recipient's permission before connecting the call. It also promises in its FAQ not to sell or pass data to commercial organisations, and to monitor its directory for any suspicious usage patterns.

The firm is coy about how it built its list of "many millions" of mobile numbers. "Our mobile phone directory is made up from various sources," Connectivity wrote.

"Generally it comes from companies who collect mobile telephone numbers from customers in the course of doing business and have been given permission by the customers to share those numbers."

Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, briefly worked as a consultant on the venture, which is backed by the investment firm 3i. He left two years ago after it became clear the business plan was dependent on opt-out, rather than an opt-in consent. "There was just nothing I could contribute after that," he said.

"It's a fundamental problem that people may not have expected their number to be used for this purpose when they didn't tick a box on form for something else."

Davies said the firm's apparent unwillingness to discuss its data sources was also concerning. "It's wrong. There's no point in them dodging the issue," he said.

When it first announced the service in 2007, Connectivity said it would contact each person whose mobile phone details it purchased for permission to include them in the directory. Those plans were dropped, however, and the firm now says it will give each person the chance to opt out the first time they are contacted via the directory.

Children will not knowingly be included in the directory, but Connectivity said that where a parent is the phone owner it may still list the number. Its website offers an opt-out for parents which takes up to four weeks to take effect.

The 118800 website also allows those who want their number to be included in the directory to upload their details. ®

*Further personal details such as street name can be used to narrow down the search.

Bootnote

The service is currently in web-only trials. During highly unscientific Reg testing it was unable to find a match for anyone we know.

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.