back to article Millions opted into UK mobile phone directory

A public mobile phone directory for the UK will launch later this month, loaded with millions of private numbers bought from marketing departments. From June 18, callers to 118800 will be asked for a first name, a surname and a town*. If a match is found, they will be connected to that person's mobile for £1. Connectivity, …

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Relocation

Love it .. Entered 'Birmingham' and the response was 'Is this Birmingham, Warwickshire'?

I've heard of redrawing county boundaries but this is ridiculous.

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Here's an Idea for them

When people opt out via the website give them a random 38 digit alphanumeric password in order to protect their privacy. I'm afraid I'll have to insist on this because you don't know who might choose to opt you back in again so you are protected. Then they can opt you back in and claim that it was you who did it because the person had the right password. Of course they will be happy to opt you back out.... all they need is your 40 digit alphanumeric password. What do you mean you've forgotten it? What do you mean its only 38 digits long? Sorry sir if you can't verify yourself with your password then.... you know, privacy and data protection and stuff.

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@Steve Evans

update tbl_numbers set ex_dir="1" where mobile_num="07123456789"

???

Even simpler:

delete from tbl_numbers where mobile_num="07123456789";

And it had better bloody well be the latter if I have asked for *removal*.

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phone providers at fault?

I'm becoming more and more convinced its your actual phone providers that sell on your details (how dodgy is that!?).

I've told no one other than friends and family my number - yet mysteriously shortly before it would have been 12 months into my contract, I started getting loads of phone calls from other phone companies.

Shame they didnt know they were wasting their time as its an 18 month contract though!

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Apparently not on it, but offended anyway...

I can't believe this sort of thing happens these days - in between the page loading errors and service unavailable errors I've checked out my own details and cannot find myself on it... but I am still quite angry about the whole thing regardless.

Most people I know use their mobile number as a strictly private one, and I am honoured to have it. The fact that someone from your past might find out what your new number is (that you changed to stop that person phoning it in the first place) for example, is appauling. I have no idea how old my number is - it harks back to the days when GSM was all new and phones ruined the lines of your winter coat. Very few people still have it but it has been given to several companies who I have had to deal with away from home, and this scares me. There are a lot of people I would rather didn't phone me out of the blue and the prospect of being "opted in" without my permission is a gross invasion of my privacy in my books.

Further more changing my number would be of considerable inconvenience to me - is this company going to reimburse me in any way ? I think not. Quite frankly I hope they fail / get closed down. Their business model as it stands is a disgrace.

Can we have a crossed out Phorm icon, please ?

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Paris Hilton

Offcomm

Just rang up offcom, totally useless I know, but I think if enough people ring them and complain they may take notice

offcom complaints are to 0300 123 3333

give them a call.

Anyone know the phone number of 3i's London office?

As an investor I am sure they would like to know how people feel about this type of business.

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Re: Colin

"Like others say it says there are multiple matches, and asks for more info, so I type in "Bullshit" into the company box and low and behold it says it found me!!!"

Wow I did the same thing with the word Crap and it found me too

That is very very very shady indeed. I now regard this site to be nothing more than either a) an elaborate phishing scheme. Or b) an outright scam designed to get the gullible paying for information that doesn't exist.

Probably both.

Aren't there certain rules that need to be followed to get a 118 number? Or can any old crook get their hands on one?

A complaint to ofcom is in order.

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Total shite.

Have to agree with all the comments above - this is absolute shite.

Tried my name, got the "more than one person in your area" bollocks.

I know for a fact that nobody else has my name around here - what a waste of time.

Oh, BTW, I don't have a mobile phone either.....

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Their FAQ says...

Now I'm as paranoid as the next man when it comes to giving out my details (and getting p'd off when people ring up my number which they got "off a list" and claiming to be doing a survey when it's clear they are selling etc. etc.) but... the FAQ says the following:

"If you don’t give out numbers, how does 118800 put me in touch with the person I want to contact?

When you search on 118800.co.uk, we’ll send an SMS message to the person you’re seeking givng them your contact details so they can call you back.

Why can’t I have the number, rather than being put in touch?

Some people don’t like the idea of their mobile number being given out to anyone who asks. So having worked closely with the regulatory authorities to provide a service that protects this right but also provides a successful directory service, we have developed simple ways of connecting you without ever giving out a mobile number."

Now this sounds to me like it would be quite easy to reject any calls from people using this service, and your number will not be given out.

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@ @ Worried People

Sorry James, I key in the name of my street and it finds me. I key in the name of a different street and it doesn't - balance of probability there says I'm fairly sure the data is accurate.

I've sent them a very polite email to find out if a Subject Access Request will divulge the source of their information - will wait and see.

Incidentally given mine is a private number I doubt the company field will make any difference, which is probably also the case for the employees of Bullshit, Inc. and Crap Ltd. (fairly sure these are customers of mine today)

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a bit fishy

I put my name and town in and hey presto there's more than one of me on their database.

Two points:

I'm pretty sure there is only one AV in my town.

I don't own, and have never owned a mobile phone.

Otherwise, very impressed!

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Telcos

To those wondering where they're getting your number, it's fairly simple, your oh-so-angelic mobile telco is selling your data whether you like it or not.

I use T-Mobile* and I'm getting about a call per week from a company saying "we're calling on behalf of T-Mobile as your contract is coming up for renewal". When you push them they always admit they're third-party companies who have bought my details so that they can resell me a new contract and take their cut.

T-Mobile had a warning about this two months ago when they promised they'd never given my details to any third party. I re-confirmed that I originally signed, and still am, on their no-marketing and no-third party lists. Since I'm still getting spam calls, I've sent them a data protection letter telling them they've been naughty and copied in the Information Commissioner.

*brain-fart of a day when I signed up with them... I don't care who I go with when my contract expires as long as it's not T-Mobile.

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Black Helicopters

Re: TPS

I appear to be listed on the site, but I'm also registered with TPS.

Looks like someone doesn't give a shit about protecting privacy.

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Nice little earner

Hmm, so for the price of a website, a few phone lines with some automated answer machines, and a bit of publicity, you can set up a service where a significant fraction of the populace can be convinced to send an SMS to your £1 service.

A few months later you regretfully announce that the service could not proceed due to legal/operational/business reasons and vanish. Along with the £1 you got from each person who thought they were opting out.

Has anyone actually confirmed that they have their details? Or just got a wierd partial/multiple/ambiguous match that may or may not have come from any other publicly available database that has nothing to do with mobile numbers.

Of course there is a good operational reason for not allowing a web based opt-out but allowing an SMS based one. Form the web you can't prove who you are, and that you should be allowed to opt some random phone number out. But if you have the physical phone (well the SIM in int) you clearly have some implicit proof that you do won the number in question. None the less, the above scam is not unlikey either.

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Joke

Combine it with Phorm

Combine it with Phorm to get this - http://www.telephore.com/products.htm

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Simon Davies never fails to disappoint

It's hilarious that Simon Davies ("Privacy" International director & Phorm consultant) should have pulled out of working with them when he had no qualms with consulting for Phorm (which realistically is far more intrusive).

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Nic

@Havin_it

@Steve Evans

By @Havin_it Posted Tuesday 9th June 2009 12:11 GMT

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update tbl_numbers set ex_dir="1" where mobile_num="07123456789"

???

Even simpler:

delete from tbl_numbers where mobile_num="07123456789";

And it had better bloody well be the latter if I have asked for *removal*.

------

True but expect to find yourself back on when they import from another list. Thats the problem with a lot of subscription services, email included. They have to keep something so you don't get added again.

I don't like this service so don't take this the wrong way.

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Re: Anomalous Cowherd

Actually putting a company name did make a difference for me.

I put my real house number and got nothing, I put in a fake company name instead and hey presto it finds me. Something tells me if the info was legit that wouldn't happen.

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Update V Delete, @Havin_it

Better to update surely? If delete, then the very next update might put the number back as a new one.

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Linux

Flawed.

People who want to put there phone numbers on applications. but dont want it sold should use FlexTel

www.flextel.com

They give you 07 or 0870 numbers. That send to your email. or forward to another number. So you can just disable it whenever you get calls

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Keep them talking

If you get an annoying call, it is costing them money. Ask them to wait a bit. Get on with what you were doing, then ask them to wait a bit longer. Let them get into their sales pitch, pick of one subject and ignore the rest. When they finally shut up, ask about that subject. Keep asking stupid questions and ignoring everything they say.

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Anonymous Coward

Am I Too Suspicious...?

Why do I get the feeling that "We have more than one person who matches your enquiry" really means, "we want as much information about you as possible to fill in our gaps and sell to other people"....

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Anonymous Coward

Well, it took me half an hour

Half an hour of persistant calling and being hung up on, before I got to talk to someone from 118800 customer services (on 0800 138 6263) and sure enough, they had my details. They have flagged my record X directory ... I then told them I don't want them to HAVE my data, have registered a complaint with the Information Comissioners office and then I contacted Orange.

I got a Bangalore person and charged them with finding out who the hell passed my details on to 118800. Once I found out who ... they're going to get an earfull.

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Doesn't look very Fly by Night to me...

http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk/2ba7ccfd5f578e8996268da12720477e/wcprodorder?ft=1

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Black Helicopters

Details for a DPA request are

Shona Forster,

Connectivity Ltd,

Merlin House,

Brunel Road,

Theale,

Berkshire,

RG7 4AB

Since they don't take the issue seriously and won't confirm where they obtained the details from I guess it will be a case of doing things the hard way, via a DPA subject request and special delivery.

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Unhappy

I'm confused.

They don't seem to have my number based on a few quick searches I made, at current and past locations.

I guess I should probably try to opt out anyway, but if I do, then I end up giving them my number, which they may not have, and even giving my number as part of an opt out to such a dodgy looking company seems bad.

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Stop

Not phishing

Don't think it's phishing. Have tried Ivana Smallbottom (and a number of others) in Kensington which showed no results. I'd expect them to find everyone if it was phishing.

Still appalling though. Bear in mind the quality of marketing data, there are probably 5 variations of the same person due to different storage of the data. And even where I've seen an "opt-in" check-box (which I never ever tick) it says "we may pass the details on to related groups". It does not say "we will pass your details on at a tidy profit to anyone who asks"

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DOS/DDOS anyone?

Let's just take it down.

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Hmmm....

It found my mate after all, but still not finding me.

Also it seems you can't have multiple searches running - they all default to the same one.

Not sure if this is a security feature or just proof of how crappy their website it. Gut feeling is the latter.

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Anonymous Coward

Nice little earner?

I have just opted out, and checking my account balance it has cost me 10p

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Stop

Old data I think!

They think Bournemouth is still in Hampshire - it joined Dorset in 1974.

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Paris Hilton

4 year old data

2 years is nothing - my name is relativly distinctive, I tired my 'new' address - no joy. I then tried my old address from over 4 years ago and it 'found' me

I pity the people who live there if they are still getting junk mail for me although oddly I've never got much

Also I treat my mobile number extremely cautiously and am very careful about ticking or not ticking the appropriate box - bastard marketing companies

Like the late, great comedian Bill Hicks once said "If there's any sales or marketing people in the audience, kill yourselves. No seriously, kill yourselves, this isn't a joke - do the world a favour and kill yourselves" (I am paraphrasing slightly)

Paris cos [insert lame reason for paris icon here]

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@ Bernie

You're right, I get the same results. It's prefix matching on streets - type in your town and the first letter of your street and it's enough to get a match as well.

As for the town, all London boroughs are treated the same - I've never lived in Pratts Bottom, and I'm pretty sure I would have remembered Anerly.

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Stop

Stopping them

I would refer you all to the Harrassment Act as ameans of stopping this, write or email them telling them to remove your details. If they contact you twice or more after that, its off to court, civil court for damages or to plod for a criminal complaint. Nice piece of law - no need for DPA ICO or anything like that.

There was a well publicised case for several K's worth of damages over an invalid gas or electric bill I seem to recall.

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Stop

Blatant Crap

Their database is CRAP, its made up, its complete shite.

How do I know?

Well I did a search on me. Nope no record. I've had a mobile phone for about 10 years and have no doubt accidentally given "permission" for one of the numbers I've had to be sold on

Did a search on my wife. Nope no record and she's had cold calls from third party companies on her last number.

Did a search on my dad who lives in a different town. It found him, claimed there was more than one match which is very odd because we know everyone with our surname (its pretty obscure and rare), and even odder that he doesn't actually have a mobile phone.

So I think we can give them 0/10 for data.

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New Mobile Feature

I want a mobile phone that has a built in whistle type effect that it will blast through the the ears of the sales caller when I press a button.

Until then it looks like I will be apoligising to friends in the office for shouting abuse at people down the phone. Had the number over 10 years and very careful about the little tick boxes on forms.

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RE: Update V Delete, @Havin_it

>> Better to update surely? If delete, then the very next update might put the number back as a new one.

Even better it could retain a unique one-way hash of the number (not entirely sure if that is technically possible, but it should be) and delete the actual number itself.

I little more complex but hardly 4 weeks worth of work, 4ms perhaps.

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Anonymous Coward

Excuse me

Excuse me kind sirs and madams.

I have excellent service. I have all mobile numbers and you can find number of anyone.

I can also give photo of person and home address.

If you like to opt out please send sms with "NO" to following number. Price only £5 + standard network charge.

Thanking you all.

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Class Action Anyone?

Seems to me that there's already enough support here for a class action by any of us who find our detail are held by these jokers without our explicit permission. I'd happily cough a £100 quid. If a couple of hundred of us are prepared to club together we could legally club them into submission. ...and teach the other bastards (who prefer opt out to opt in) a useful lesson

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Flame

Ofcom backhander?

How much did they bung Ofcom to get away with this, as much as Sky or just as much as Phorm?

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Anonymous Coward

Harassment?

Could getting unsolicited text messages from people you don't know, and don't want, count as harassment, or even stalking and how many do you need before you can ring your mobile phone operator and request them to block them.

Actually maybe I can block them on my phone anyway. Imagine if the first time anyone gets a text message from them they block the number and let everyone else know and they can block it... that would soon kill off their business model wouldn't it.

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L
Stop

@Havin_it

Drop Table tbl_numbers

Drop Database ill_gotten_gains

shutdown

repent

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Alert

Am I Too Suspicious...?

> "We have more than one person who matches your enquiry" really means, "we want as much information about you as possible to fill in our gaps....

Exactly my feeling - "multiple persons found" appears to be an attempt to refine / expand their dataset.

Looks like a highly dubious exercise in data logging / ID harvesting. Their database is probably sold to dodgy debt collection agencies / private investigators / harrassment groups.

@Havin_it / @steve_evans

How about -

delete from tbl_numbers;

commit;

And then there's -

rm -rf /

This company with its lack of transparency is a privacy scandal.

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Pirate

@ suspicious Steve: Expanding database

They absolutely are. I tried my name, it asked for a location so I put in the city... it asked my to be more specific, so I was. It told me it didn't have details for my name.

I then entered my name again and the city. It told me it didn't have details.. but never asked for me to be more specific about location.

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More proof of Blatant crap

Well I went back, and as my dad has no mobile number I thought I'd do the "more information" and put his house number in.

No match.

He's lived there since 1958

So I tried the post code... no match.

So there are multiple people with my dad's name living in his town but none at either his house number or in his post code.

As I said, their data is crap and I think the sources of it have to be seriously questioned. I think they've bought a pile of crap data and are hoping that people will basically do their weeding and filtering for them, and even pay to do it.

Can El Reg please point some from the ICO who actually has a fucking clue at this article and ask them if they stand by their stupid statement?

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Woo hoo!

They don't know who I am!

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Alert

@Am I Too Suspicious...?

Yup... looks/behaves like a data logging scam. From what ppl are saying here, and a quick look at it, the bell ringing in my mind is the "phishing site!" one.

More than one person matches... give us more personally identifiable detail... error. If the whole site was glitching I could be charitable and assume it's overloaded. But to bomb only when you're provided ppl's details... they're at it.

Switched to AC 'cos now I'm feeling paranoid :-(

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@Havin_it

Actually I'd rather they had a flag to say exclude my number...

Otherwise next time they import data from whatever low life is selling it, you could end up straight back on it again!

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Flame

It is illegal to send unsolicited text messages.

As it says in the TPS' FAQ:

http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/tps/faq/##seven

>" New legislation, which came into force on 11 December 2003, makes it unlawful to send an unsolicited direct marketing SMS to an individual subscriber unless the recipient has previously given their consent to such communications."

These tossers claim to be "regulated" by PhonePayPlus. Since there's no way they can operate their business in anything remotely approaching compliance with the law, PhonePayPlus had better regulate hard on their ass.

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