Privacy Invasion Fears over First Mobile Phone Directory

Article excerpt

Byline: Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor

THE upcoming launch of the first mobile phone directory was yesterday attacked as a 'clear invasion of privacy'.

Connectivity, the company behind the service, has bought details of 16million phone numbers - around 40 per cent of those in regular use in the UK.

It says it will not give out mobile numbers, but instead act as an intermediary to put users in touch with whoever they are searching for.

But Nigel Evans MP, the Conservative chairman of the All Party Group on ID Fraud, described the emergence of the new service as 'shocking' and 'depressing'.

He said: 'People feel that their mobile phone number is very private to them and should not be traded for profit.

'People will be infuriated if they find they are bombarded with calls from people they don't want or expect to hear from. It is a clear invasion of privacy.'

Connectivity has bought its list of mobile numbers from brokers - who themselves have purchased personal details from market research firms and online stores.

Individuals will also be able to volunteer to place their numbers with the mobile directory inquiry service, which launches on June 16.

Connectivity insists it is 'privacy friendly' because it does not hand over mobile phone numbers to users of the service.

Instead, operators will find and dial the target's number and ask whether they are prepared to receive the call. However, Simon Davies of Privacy International - who left the project after working on it as a paid consultant during its early phase - is worried about how the numbers have been collected.

'There are fundamental privacy issues,' he said. 'The company needs to be far more specific about where it acquired the numbers on its directory.'

Connectivity claims it has been given approval for its service by the Office of the Information Commission. …