Feeds

T-Mobile coughs to data theft

But can't understand all the fuss

Build a business case: developing custom apps

T-Mobile has admitted it was the operator whose staff sold customer data to competitors, but can't understand why the Information Commissioner decided to share the information.

Staff at the network operator had developed a sideline selling customer records to brokers who then called up the customers to offer alternative contracts.

T-Mobile had been told not to mention the case to anyone as there were prosecutions pending, so the operator was pretty surprised when the Information Commissioner decided to spill the beans yesterday to help his political case for harsher sentences for data breaches.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is trying to whip up support for custodial sentences for those convicted of stealing data, but public sympathy for celebrities who had their phone records stolen is minimal. The T-Mobile case, on the other hand, demonstrates why normal people should care too, which is why the details came out in the Commissioner's response to the Government consultation about the introduction of prison sentences.

T-Mobile seemingly couldn't have handled the case better. The operator received complaints that customers were getting curiously well-informed cold calls, so T-Mobile investigated - as operators are surprisingly willing to do. It took its evidence to the ICO, who investigated further and told the operator to say nothing to anybody until the case was complete.

But that restriction didn't apply to the ICO, who published the details to support its argument. The ICO didn't name the operator, but it didn't take long to get denials out of all the other operators, forcing T-Mobile to admit it was them, despite promising the ICO they wouldn't say anything.

As for the data stolen, it mainly consisted of customer details and contract end dates - annoying to have public but not exactly state secrets. Customer details are in the phone book, and most people will tell you their contract renewal date if you call them up and ask (as cold callers are wont to do).

Whether one approves of custodial sentences for nicking data, or not, it's clear that the ICO has manipulated this case into a cause celebre with impact far beyond its real importance. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.