O2 share your phone number?
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24th January 2012
Update : Mobile operator O2 says that as of 2pm Wednesday, it has fixed the part of its mobile web browsing service that was reporting mobile phone users’ telephone numbers to websites they visited via O2′s mobile data network. In a blog post , it said that the phone numbers were revealed between January 10 and January 25, as a result of “technical changes” around “routine maintenance”. It was unintended. The company further writes: “In addition to the usual trusted partners, there has been the potential for disclosure of customers’ mobile phone numbers to further website owners.” Who are the ‘usual trusted partners’? O2 writes that normally it shares numbers “only where absolutely required by trusted partners who work with us on age verification, premium content billing, such as for downloads, and O2′s own services,” but does not give more details of who exactly goes on that whitelist.
O2 is facing a backlash from its customers after it was claimed the firm is passing users' mobile phone numbers to any web site they visit when accessing the internet over a data connection.
Today we found out that O2 had screwed up their mobile internet proxy settings quite epically and had sent customer phone numbers to millions of websites, worldwide, as a matter of process, presumably by accident.
In a word, yes; I very much think this matters. Why?
If you're reading this news article using your O2 mobile phone, you'll be pleased to know that O2 have already sent us your mobile phone number within the HTTP headers which normally contain information about how content can be displayed on your device. These headers are not normally seen by users, and usually not logged by most websites, but the flaw allows malicious sites to get more personal information about you than you may be willing to share. For example, if you open an e-mail which includes references to external images, the mere action of opening the e-mail would divulge your phone number.