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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Same old iPad? NO. The new 'soft SIMs' are BIG NEWS
AppleSIM 'ware to allow quick switch of carriers
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease
Hey, c'mon Choc Factory, it's our 'right to be forgotten'
Of COURSE Stephen Elop's to blame for Nokia woes, says author
'Google did have some unique propositions for Nokia'
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.