Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Mobile numbers directory -consent?

A new company has harvested mobile telephone numbers for the UK.
If you have ever entered your mobile number on a form, and not made sure you ticked/ unticked the option to share your number elsewhere - you're on it.

When you gave permission to share your number this could be because you didn't notice the small opt out box. It could also be because you were advised your telephone number would only be passed to selected companies who might offer you products that interested you - such as items to fancy up your mobile phone.
You DID NOT KNOW at that time that your number would be placed on a national directory which anyone can use to contact you.

Clearly this threatens your privacy. It also raises issues of young people and children, or vulnerable people, using a mobile phone.

For full details on your privacy, how to protect yourself, click READ MORE.

When an enquirer contacts the service it will send you a text message advising you that someone wants to contact you.

Clearly this will mean a lot of spam, and could be used to harass.
If you receive abuse as a result of the service the company refuses to take any responsibility.
I contacted my phone provider 02 who are seriously concerned that they have been unable to protect their customers.

OfCom is investigating and a report is due out by Friday.
the DP commissioner's office has provided me with some useful legal data (see below).

1. To have your number removed from the Directory call 0800 138 6263.
DO NOT use the option to text them. This opens a loophole by placing your number on another database.
However as of today the company is swamped with calls to do this and by 1pm today it was no longer possible to get through. I have spoken to several 'managers' who are sounding rattled.

2. You are probably safe if your phone is bought from a shop on a pay as you go basis, if you did not give your name and address as part of the purchase.

3. The legal position is:
Privacy of Electronic Communications Regulations 2003
Regulation 18:
(Summarised) People have to know about a directory and that their number is on it. They must be given the opportunity to opt out.

That does not mean getting to know through third parties like newspapers, No2ID, me, or other concerned organisations. It means the directory must notify you direct.

The company stated to the DP office that they planned to notify everyone in one communication, presumably a mass notification. Details on that have not been publicised which is of consern as the service goes live within the week.

1 comment:

  1. LATER: Have received contact from Ian Hardacre of the company concerned. It appears that they DO take the privacy issue seriously.

    On first contact you would be notified that you are on the database, and offered the opportunity to opt out (go ex-directory). This complies with the Section 18 Regulation I noted above.

    Secondly Ian is using a particularly robust type of search software to identify any minors. This may not be 100% in all cases but the company does seem to be doing a great deal to try to cover the issues.