by Mike Masnick

The Complications Of Mobile Phone Record Data Leaks

from the not-quite-so-black-and-white dept

The press (and politicians) have really been getting swept up in this story about the easy availability of mobile phone records online -- though, we still think most have the story wrong. Pushed by the mobile operators and its lobbying organization, the story has been spun as somehow being the government's fault for not cracking down, rather than the operators fault for letting the data out in the first place. Cingular is the latest company to trumpet how it's gone after phone record sellers, again leaving out the part about them somehow leaking that data to the sellers in the first place. Wired News is one of the few publications to actually look at how that data gets out, and discovers it's usually done through social engineering -- the same trick we discussed nearly five years ago. In other words, this is nothing new, and the mobile operators have done extremely little to prevent the data leaks for many, many years, and are now pushing the government to clean up their mess. However, what was interesting to see is that many of the publications focusing in on what a big problem it is that phone records are easily available were the very same publications who a week ago were screaming for blood over the fact that a Sprint operator wouldn't reveal GPS info to parents whose car was stolen with their baby still inside. So, on the one hand, it's a situation where mobile operators are giving out info too easily, and on the other, they're being too careful. The reality of both cases, though, is that operators should have a standard protocol to follow -- and it appears that many are not trained to follow it properly, leading to problems in both directions.

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  • identicon
    Jeremiah, 17 Jan 2006 @ 9:06am


    Are there currently any laws that expressly forbid the sale/dissemination of that information?

    If "no", then I would submit that indeed it *is* up to the gov't to put laws in place that prevent companies from engaging in this business, and provide remedies to victims if they continue.

    If "yes", then again, the onus is on the gov't to enforce those laws.

    Mike, I *know* you're not suggesting these companies be left to thier own devices (pun intended) and expected to police themselves??

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 17 Jan 2006 @ 10:23am

      Re: doubla

      But there would be no reason at all for gov't involvement if these companies weren't leaking data in the first place.

      I'm not saying the companies should be left to police those who are selling the data at all. Obviously, it would make sense to have better laws to go after those sellers. However, the fact that the data is leaking is the root of the problem -- and that's totally being ignored. Even you seem to be assuming that it's fine and dandy that the operators are leaking the data, and then only blaming those who go on to sell the data. That's absolutely the wrong way to look at it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Prescott, 17 Jan 2006 @ 10:37am

    What is going on these days

    Why is it even an issue? They dished out a bunch of info they shouldn't have because they don't have rules that they should develop themselves?

    And now they blame the government for not punishing them?

    Is that to justify their actions by saying that the government didn't stop or punish them so how were they supposed to know what they were doing was wrong?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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