Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Is Your Mobile Number in This Directory?

I was stunned to learn from El Reg, that Connectivity Limited, trading as 118800, has "worked closely with the regulatory authorities" in launching "the only directory with millions of mobile numbers" in it. When you want to track down someone's mobile number, you enter the poor unfortunate's details and if 118800 has the number, this crowd will text the person a message to call you.

WTF?! This is hardly innovative or useful to anyone except stalkers and cold callers. If I wanted people to whom I haven't given my mobile number to be able to call my mobile, I'd publish the number myself and they could Google it, or find it on Facebook or wherever. But I don't. And I stopped publishing my home number for the same reason years ago.

Naturally, one of the FAQs is "How the !*&% did you get my mobile number?" (not), and their answer is:
"Our mobile phone directory is made up from various sources. Generally it comes from companies who collect mobile telephone numbers from customers in the course of doing business and have been given permission by the customers to share those numbers."
Well, I'm sorry, but I can tell this crowd right now that NEVER in all my years of giving out my mobile number, did I foresee or intend that I was consenting to its inclusion in this type of service. And I hate that they have put me in a position where I have to go to the trouble of telling them to delete me from their systems.

The Information Commissioner is reported as saying this service is no different to the practice of selling marketing lists. But this is vastly different in scale, accessibility and because the people who sell marketing lists don't text you every time someone buys the list or wants to send you junk mail.

The Commissioner needs to get a grip.

Meanwhile, time to register the mobile number on the Telephone Preference Service.
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