Feeds

Staff at UK mobile co sold customer records

Info Commissioner recommends jail for miscreants

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Updated Staff at an unnamed mobile operator have been selling customer details to the competition, and the Information Commissioner reckons that it will take a spell in chokey to stop the leaks.

According to the BBC, a T-Mobile spokesman has confirmed that T-Mobile is the company in question. The spokesman tells the BBC that the company alerted the Information Commission, saying that the data was sold "without our knowledge."

Customers numbering "many thousands" have had their details - including contract-renewal dates - lifted by staff working at the operator in question and sold to agents, who then cold-call the customers to offer alternative contracts. But the Information Commissioner complains that fining the ne'er-do-wells isn't enough, and suggests that locking them away is the only language they'll understand.

The details come as part of the Commissioner's ongoing campaign in favour of government proposals to introduce a prison term for those in breach of the Data Protection Act. This demonstrates that it's not just banks and doctors who have commercially-valuable information that can be stolen by individuals employed by the company.

In this case, it was enough information for a broker to call up just before a contract expires and offer an alternative, for which the brokers have apparently paid "substantial amounts of money". So much money, according to the Commissioner, that the threat of a fine is simply ineffective:

"The existing paltry fines... are simply not enough to deter people from engaging in this lucrative criminal activity. The threat of jail, not fines, will prove a stronger deterrent."

Given the number of cold calls received by every mobile phone user in the UK it would be tempting to think the information wasn't that valuable - but we don't know exactly what other information could have been exposed. Plus there is also an obvious principle at stake.

Strengthening Section 55 of the Data Protection Act could make it riskier for journalists to find information, though apparently we'll get a "public interest" defence to go with the new custodial sentences. ®

Updated: This story has been updated to include mention of the BBC's story on the matter.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms firm here
Is goTenna tech a goer? Time to grill CEO, CTO
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.