by Mike Masnick

Finally, A Telco Gets Blamed For Its Own Data Leaks

from the it's-about-time dept

Earlier this year, there was a lot of press coverage over the fact that people could go to various online "information broker" services and buy the mobile phone records of just about everyone. What dismayed (though, not surprised) us was that so much of the anger was directed at the government (as in, why aren't they doing anything about it) and not the telcos for leaking all that data. In fact, the telcos weren't about to miss an opportunity to shift the blame -- and so even they came out publicly and whined about the government not doing enough, never bothering to mention the fact that this data wouldn't have been out there if they hadn't leaked it in the first place. Perhaps they should have kept quiet. The government finally did step in, and just last week one of the more well known data brokering firms was hit with a fine for failing to respond to a subpoena. However, it looks like the government didn't stop there either. Today comes the news that AT&T will also be paying a settlement for leaking the data in the first place.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Ryu, Jul 19th, 2006 @ 10:14pm

    First ^^

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 19th, 2006 @ 11:34pm


    Want a cookie?

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

  3. identicon
    Conspiracy Nut, Jul 19th, 2006 @ 11:37pm

    And right when the telcos are getting sued for giving phone records to the government as well...

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

  4. identicon
    DittoBox, Jul 19th, 2006 @ 11:48pm

    The problem...

    The problem is people expect the government to fix things magically. That's something it can't do. The government doesn't generally "fix" things anyway, let alone do it well enough.

    So long as government doesn't interfere (interfere == (heavy )regulation) too much in business and the general public remains vigilant, alert and informed corporate corruption is minimal at worst.

    Unfortunately with regulation and an ill-informed, ignorant or apathetic public we get things like monopolistic telcos and greedy politicians. Most of the public doesn't know they're getting royally shafted, or they don't care and those of us who do know about the corruption in government and corporation are almost powerless to stop it.

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

  5. identicon
    claire rand, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 12:06am

    Re: Re:

    if he doesn't... I'll have a cookie :-)

    if the whole 'first' thing annoys you, well ignore it, let the children play. the posts are crap, but at least they are short.

    it could be worse...

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

  6. identicon
    mgreen, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 5:12am

    Re: The problem...

    On what basis do you claim "corporate corruption is minmal at best?" Enron, WorldCom, Arther Anderson, and the dozens like it sure seem like quite a bit of corruption to me. Big business is corrupt because they are allowed to by our government--via deregulation, campaign contributions, etc. Addressing corruption takes political will--and there is certainly none of it in our current administration.

    It is not the public's responsibility to monitor for corporate corruption, and big business has proven time and again, if they think nobody is watching, they'll act like it.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 5:59am

    This stuff's so goofy....

    Remember in the 80's - how they said computers would make things more secure, etc... etc...

    The more the mix money and tech the more money you lose.. If there's one thing that's certain - computers are NOT secure, lol

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

  8. icon
    chris (profile), Jul 20th, 2006 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: The problem...

    you are right that it *shouldn't* be the public's responsibility to keep government and corporate corruption in check. that is *supposed* to be the role of the media.

    but the media, the government, and big business are all too greedy and gutless to do anything exept sell out.

    that leaves the "ignorant" public to fend for itself.

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

  9. identicon
    Joe, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: The problem...

    I agree that reducing corruption takes political will, however, I don't think that the current administration is solely to blame. It would seem only fair to share to responsibility with all the ingrates who we send to Washington over and over again, regardless of party affiliation. George Bush isn't the source of all evil in the world! Oprah is......:)

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

  10. identicon
    WirelessGuy, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 8:17am

    I agree with Joe

    This is all Oprahs fault.

    Greed is the root of all that ails us. Period. People are making money doing this and will do so even with the threat of government fines. They see it as the cost of doing business. Companies are paying a lot more attention to their corruption with the Enron case, MCI and Tyco. If it is jail time, then people start to think.

    But the fines that can be put out there just are not deterent enough. People making millions and then hit with $10,000 fines are like what the NBA does to Mark Cuban or NFL to T Owens. Hit them where it hurts and that is living in club fed.

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

  11. identicon
    Redmond Herring, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 8:59am


    Ryu, you're an idiot. Why can't we mod you offtopic?

    Speaking of being ontopic, it's about damn time that big business was held accountable for their actions. Lets hope this sparks a rash of fines and lawsuits against the companies who leak this kind of personal information.

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

  12. identicon
    Robert, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 9:07am


    Does this almost seem like the dog biting the hand that feeds it? I wonder if this little blame game might cause a slight disturbance in the telco/government alliances?

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

  13. identicon
    DittoBox, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 9:37am

    Re: Re: The problem...

    Nice going troll. Not only did you misquote me but you took my words out of context.

    Read it again.

    So long as government doesn't interfere (interfere == (heavy )regulation) too much in business and the general public remains vigilant, alert and informed corporate corruption is minimal at worst.

    In other words:

    If the market were free (IE little government control), and the people willing (IE not being apathetic) we could control both the government and corporate sector.

    I was saying *if* these things happen not that they are, because they aren't. Government is interfering, the people don't care and thus you have big nasty corporations that are greedy and have the power to feed that greed.

    Worse off the media doesn't do anything about because they are huge corporations.

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

  14. identicon
    Brad Eleven, Jul 20th, 2006 @ 9:38am

    Corporate Responsibility

    It's not corruption--although that is a major problem--that sources this problem. It's the lack of responsibility evident with corporations in general, and specifically with corporations which demand private data in their consumer agreements.

    (this problem also exists in government agencies, but is beyond the scope of this rant)

    It's obvious that having this sensitive data predicates these corporations' success. THEY NEED IT TO MAKE MONEY. That's fine. Really. AS LONG AS THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE WITH IT.

    Simply put, the protection of this data is the responsibility of these corporations. It has been reported, early and often, that these corporations refused to take sensible steps to protect the data, e.g., encryption. Their argument has been that it's too hard, that it slows down access, etc. THEY SAY IT'S INCONVENIENT FOR THEM TO PROTECT THE DATA.

    That argument doesn't hold water. On the one hand, they need the data, but on the other hand, they aren't willing to protect it.

    It's obvious that they have no interest or incentive to protect it.

    Case in point: Credit Reporting Agencies. Whether or not their data is secure is minor for them, but they're still not responsible with the data. That is, IT IS SOMEHOW THE CONSUMER'S RESPONSIBILITY TO GUARANTEE THE ACCURACY OF THIS DATA. Ridiculous. If this data is expected to be accurate, then the owners of the data must ensure that it's accurate.

    By the same token, corporations which have sensitive data seem to believe that IT IS ALSO THE CONSUMER'S RESPONSIBILITY TO WORK AROUND PROBLEMS CAUSED BY THE COMPROMISE OF THEIR PRIVATE DATA.

    In general, corporations with sensitive data have no business case for ensuring the accuracy of, or protecting it. Perhaps we need for them to have it.

    Anyone have a better idea than legislation? That's the worst case:
    1. Corporations will lobby the Congress for weak rules
    2. The laws will not be enforced
    3. It will take too long--or never happen

    It is my opinion that irresponsible corporations should not be allowed to lobby the Congress. Kind of like not allowing poorly performing contractors to obtain additional government contracts.

    Funny thing: I don't see this happening, as long as corporations successfully claim the right of free speech (i.e., lobbying access w/no oversight) without also demonstrating the responsibilities that citizens are held accountable for. You know, like obeying the law.

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

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