Feeds

Mobile directory made legal threats to get personal details

O2 cried foul

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The company behind a controversial new directory of private mobile phone numbers threatened O2 with legal action when it refused to provide its customers' personal details, The Register has learned.

Start up firm Connectivity, which will launch its 118800 service next week, approached O2 18 months ago for access to its customer database. The operator refused and argued that only an opt-in approach was appropriate because people typically consider their mobile number very private.

In response, Connectivity told O2 it was legally required to hand over the data as landline companies are required to give data to home phone directories.

A spokeswoman for O2 said: "Connectivity approached O2 some time ago to request customers' details and we declined to participate, despite the threat of litigation.

"Our experience is that our customers treat their number personally and like to decide for themselves who they give it to."

It's also understood that Connectivity aggressively approched the other mobile operators, but was rebuffed. A spokeswoman for Orange said: "As we take the privacy rights of our customers very seriously we reached no agreement with them, and refused to hand over any of our customers' information and data."

The disclosure raises further concerns about Connectivity's attitude to data protection. A spokeswoman for the firm said earlier this week that stories about the impending launch of its directory had prompted a flood of calls from mobile users concerned that they may receive unsolicited calls. In such cases it offers an opt-out from its database.

After failing to access mobile user information directly, the firm turned to lists of millions of numbers and addresses sold by market research and premium rate companies to build its database. Many Reg readers have reported the 118800 database contains former addresses up to five years old.

Connectivity confirmed in a statement it had planned legal action to get access to operator data. "Exactly as all the landline directory services were entitled to request telephone number data from BT, 118800 is also legally entitled to request data from telecommunications companies," it said.

"We began briefly to exercise this right and Ofcom was in the process of resolving the debate and carrying out a consultation. But this would have slowed down the delivery of the service so, having found alternative reliable sources of data, we decided not to pursue legal action."

O2 said that Ofcom, the communications regulator, had informally agreed with it that an opt-in approach was appropriate. But according to privacy campaigner Simon Davies, who worked as a consultant to Connectivity, the company had calculated that for the business to be viable it would have to use an opt-out consent model.

Connectivity argues that its directory protects privacy because it does not give out mobile numbers, but rather acts as an intermediary, connecting the caller to their target. The recipient must also give consent for the caller to be connected. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.