O2 accidentally exposes customers' phone numbers

Jan 25, 2012 By RAPHAEL SATTER , Associated Press

An untold number of U.K. residents may have unwittingly broadcast their numbers to sites across the Web while browsing the Internet with their cellphones during the past two weeks.

Mobile service provider O2 said Wednesday that a glitch had exposed the numbers of smartphone-toting customers who connected to the Internet over the company's network.

The company, a major subsidiary of Spain's Telefonica, S.A., has some 22 million customers in Britain. It was unclear how many of those may have been affected and a call seeking further comment from O2 was not immediately returned.

The glitch was "potentially very serious," said Matt Bath, the technology editor for British Which?

"You are making private information available into the wilds of the Web," he said. "A lot of good websites won't do anything with that data at all (but) there's a potential for a rogue website to harvest the information. That is an open door when it comes to spam, which is annoying, but also outright scams."

O2 said in a blog post that the company routinely shares its customers' with what it described as "trusted partners" for purposes such as age-verification and billing for premium content. But because of a glitch introduced during a routine maintenance operation around January 10, "there has been the potential for of customers' mobile phone numbers to further website owners."

said it had fixed the bug Wednesday and apologized for any concern caused. But Bath said the damage may already have been done.

"This genie is completely out of the bottle," he said. "Some unruly website may be rubbing their hands with glee at the data bounty that's landed on their laps."

The Information Commissioner's Office, Britain's data protection watchdog, said it was looking into the potential .

"When people visit a website via their mobile phone they would not expect their number to be made available to that website," the office said in a statement.

Explore further: NBCUniversal settles with unpaid interns for $6.4M

More information: O2's blog: http://blog.o2.co.uk/

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UK's O2 apologizes for smart phone service trouble

Dec 29, 2009

(AP) -- The head of mobile phone operator O2 has apologized to customers in the British capital who were unable to make calls after the group's network was swamped by people using smart phones such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

Broadband seen feeling O2 heat soon

May 15, 2006

When it comes to phone services, European markets are often ahead of the curve, particularly when it comes to making the most out of mobile phones. Paying for parking or getting a drink from a vending machine via a mobile ...

Telefonica's O2 buyout buoys outlook

Oct 31, 2005

Business hopes are high at Telefonica in acquiring O2, a deal that was officially announced Monday after weeks of speculation. The Spanish company, which is the world's fifth-largest telecommunications group in terms of ...

Vodafone to sell iPhone in Britain

Sep 28, 2009

Vodafone on Tuesday became the latest mobile phone operator to announce it will begin selling iPhones in Britain following the expiry of O2's exclusive deal with Apple.

O2's first firm step forward as Telefonica

Jan 24, 2006

On the day that O2 officially became part of Spanish carrier Telefonica, the British wireless provider is proving that it was a good buy, if its latest progress report provides any indication of its future potential.

Recommended for you

States ascend into the cloud

6 hours ago

Seven years ago, the state of Delaware started moving computer servers out of closets and from under workers' desks to create a consolidated data center and a virtual computing climate.

Microsoft drops Nokia name from smartphones

8 hours ago

Microsoft said Friday it was dropping the Nokia name from its Lumia smartphones, rebranding following the acquisition earlier this year of the Finnish group's handset division.

Amazon's loss makes holidays a question mark

8 hours ago

Amazon's trademark smile icon is becoming more of a grimace. The world's largest online retailer reported a wider third-quarter loss than analysts expected and gave a disappointing holiday forecast.

Ericsson profit down 10 pct despite higher sales

13 hours ago

Wireless equipment maker Ericsson says its third-quarter earnings slumped 10 percent despite higher sales due to increased operating costs and negative effects from currency hedging.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

extremity
not rated yet Jan 25, 2012
Accidental leakage for 2 weeks or bait for data miners. You decide.