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T-Mobile: Absolute Bastards


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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8364421.stm

 

:rant:

 

T-Mobile staff sold personal data

 

Staff at mobile phone company T-Mobile passed on millions of records from thousands of customers, a spokesman for the firm has confirmed.

 

The suspected illegal trade emerged after the firm alerted the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.

 

He said brokers bought the data and sold it on to other phone firms, who then cold-called the customers, as their contracts were due to expire.

 

A T-Mobile spokesman said the data was sold "without our knowledge".

 

Mr Graham, who was appointed earlier this year as the watchdog responsible for safeguarding personal information, said the case illustrated why there needed to be a prison sentence to prevent people from selling private data to third parties.

 

He confirmed his office was preparing a prosecution against those responsible for selling on T-Mobile data.

 

Justice Minister Michael Wills told the BBC that there was a "strong case" for introducing custodial sentences to prevent the trade in illegal data.

 

Search warrants

 

Earlier, Mr Graham had said he would not name the operator involved as it could prejudice a prosecution.

 

But after phone firms 02, Vodafone, Orange, 3 and Virgin said they were not the subject of the investigation, T-Mobile confirmed it had been.

 

Mr Graham said investigators had been working with the company after it reported suspicions of an unlawful trade in customers' data.

 

The team from the Information Commissioner's office obtained search warrants to enter premises and have also interviewed employees.

 

Mr Graham said: "Many people will have wondered why and how they are being contacted by someone they do not know just before their existing phone contract is about to expire.

 

"We are considering the evidence with a view to prosecuting those responsible and I am keen to go much further and close down the entire unlawful industry in personal data.

ANALYSIS

Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent

 

The increasing use of computers and memory sticks to store and transfer data has fuelled what the information commissioner described in 2006 as a pernicious and widespread trade.

 

Addresses, phone bills, bank statements and health records - they can all be obtained for a price.

 

The Information Commissioner's report estimated that you could trace the name and address of a telephone caller from their phone number for £75 and check someone's criminal record for £500.

 

Suppliers obtain information through two routes - by paying insiders to pass it on or by pretending to be someone who has a lawful need for it - known as blagging.

 

In August a civilian worker at Essex Police was fined for accessing police intelligence databases 800 times and passing on mobile phone records.

 

"But, we will only be able to do this if blaggers and others who trade in personal data face the threat of a prison sentence.

 

"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."

 

The Ministry of Justice has been consulting on tougher penalties for illegal trade in personal information.

 

The Data Protection Act bans the selling on of data without prior permission from the customer and a fine of £5,000 can be imposed following a successful prosecution.

 

But Mr Graham said that the mobile phone case suggested that people were "driving a coach and horses" through the legislation.

 

"If public trust and confidence in the proper handling of personal information, whether by government or by others, is to be maintained effective sanctions are essential," he added.

 

Justice Minister Michael Wills said the government was looking at bringing in tougher penalties to deter the illegal trade in personal information.

T-MOBILE FACTS

# The UK's fourth largest mobile phone company with an estimated 16.6 million customers - 15% share of the market

# UK workforce of 6,500

# Subsidiary of German firm Deutsche Telekom

# Plans to merge its UK business with that of Orange, creating a mobile phone giant with 28.4 million customers

 

He added: "Given the scale of public concern about privacy of their data, I think we have to look at going further and custodial sentences clearly have to be a part of that."

 

But Conservative justice spokeswoman Eleanor Laing said: "The Government's refusal to establish a strong privacy watchdog is nothing short of scandalous.

 

"We need a beefed-up information commissioner with a full set of punitive strings to his bow, including the power to fine organisations."

 

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the "shameful incident" proved that stiffer penalties "cannot be introduced soon enough".

 

He added: "This sorry episode questions the government's wisdom in getting communications providers to hoard increasing amounts of information about us."

 

'Proactively supported'

 

A spokesman for T-Mobile said the sale of the data had been "deeply regrettable" and that it had been asked to keep it secret to avoid any criminal prosecutions being prejudiced.

 

He said: "T-Mobile takes the protection of customer information seriously.

 

"When it became apparent that contract renewal information was being passed on to third parties without our knowledge, we alerted the Information Commissioner's Office.

 

The spokesman added that the company and the ICO "working together" had identified the source of the breach and that T-Mobile had "proactively supported the ICO to help stamp out what is a problem for the whole industry".

 

He added: "We were therefore surprised at the way in which these statements were made to the BBC today."

 

A selection of your comments may be published, displaying your name and location unless you state otherwise in the box below.

 

Story from BBC NEWS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/uk/8364421.stm

 

Published: 2009/11/17 19:36:02 GMT

 

© BBC MMIX

 

Fucking outrage. I'm not renewing my contract with them after this debacle.  :angry:

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Guest Stephen927

I'm on T-Mobile pay-as-you-go. They give me 3p texts to all networks, which is nice.

 

Sounds pretty f***ing s**** that though.

 

Same here, brilliant deal.

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Anyone who wants out of their contract could probably use that against them.

 

 

 

Really?

 

Ironically, I've just signed up to them for mobile broadband - still in the 7 day cooling off period though so I could fuck them off. Still got a few months left to run on my current contract with them for mobile phone though.

 

This could be a handy exit from that contract. Interesting :shifty:

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Anyone who wants out of their contract could probably use that against them.

 

 

 

Really?

 

Ironically, I've just signed up to them for mobile broadband - still in the 7 day cooling off period though so I could fuck them off. Still got a few months left to run on my current contract with them for mobile phone though.

 

This could be a handy exit from that contract. Interesting :shifty:

 

Not a legal eagle like but if they cannot guarantee the security of personal details of their customers which i'd be shocked isn't part of their terms and conditions or enforced by law, then why should you pay them for their services?

 

If I wanted out of a T-Mobile contract i'd be seeing what i could do, last thing they need right now is any more bad press.

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Knew it would be T-Mobile when the story first appeared, I get calls constantly on my work number.  It's usually pretty easy to tell that it's a cold call though since not one caller has been able to tell me my name or the name of the company I work for.

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T-Mobile were basically the victims in this, seeing as it was rival companies buying the stolen data in order to try and steal T-Mobile customers when their contracts were running out.  Doesn't change the fact that T-Mobile staff were being cunts though.

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I'm on T-Mobile pay-as-you-go. They give me 3p texts to all networks, which is nice.

 

Sounds pretty f***ing s**** that though.

 

Same here, brilliant deal.

 

+ me. Works a treat for me, except when the free things they give you after topping up are shit (like 5 free minutes to another T-Mob customer.. I never make calls!)

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