Mobile Company Shops Alleged Data Traders
- Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
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An unnamed UK mobile phone company has voluntarily admitted to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) that it believes its employees sold details relating to customers mobile phone contracts, including their contract expiry dates. It is alleged that the information was being sold on to the service providers competitors, whose agents were using the material to cold call customers prior to contract expiry dates to offer them an alternative contract. The service provider has alleged that many thousands of customer account details have been unlawfully obtained.
After investigating the claims, the ICO says it appears that the information has been sold on to several brokers and that substantial amounts of money have changed hands. The ICO has obtained several search warrants and attended a number of premises, and is now preparing a prosecution file.
The Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, is pushing for custodial sentences for individuals who trade unlawfully in personal data. He says:
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. 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 for Section 55 offences 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.