T-Mobile under investigation for illegally selling customer data

Privacy watchdog ''will push for jail time'' on convictions

T-Mobile under investigation for illegally selling customer data

[Editor's note: the title of this story originally read 'Mobile operator under investigation...' After publication the operator in question was revealed as T-Mobile. The text of the story is unaltered.]

The Information Commissioner's Office has told BBC News that staff at one of the UK's major mobile network operator's are under investigation for selling customer data to brokers, who then forwarded the information to rival companies that called customers as contracts came to an end.

The firm in question (which hasn't been named) apparently alerted the privacy watchdog after it became suspicious of the private data trading, and has since been aiding investigators in uncovering the details.

"We are considering the evidence with a view to prosecuting those responsible and I am keen to go much further and close down the entire unlawful industry in personal data," Information commissioner Christopher Graham said, adding, "The existing paltry fines… are simply not enough to deter people from engaging in this lucrative criminal activity. The threat of jail, not fines, will prove a stronger deterrent."

The case highlights the profitability of selling private data, which is illegal without the customer's express permission, and the Ministry of Justice is currently considering tougher penalties for illegal data trading.