Telecoms company Vodafone has been lambasted in the press this morning amid reports they may have unlawfully accessed a journalist’s phone records. Natalie O’Brien’s call and text records were accessed by investigators in 2011. I should add that Vodafone denies asking the investigators to make such a move. The Australian federal police have taken over the investigation.
It was for the purposes of tracking down a source – a Vodafone manager is quoted as instructing investigators to use ‘any means available’ to find out who it was. O’Brien was breaking a story of a massive data breach at Vodafone.
The news broke after an e-mail was leaked. The leaking of internal e-mails and data is a major security risk, as the insider threat is often argued as the least detectable threat actor. Additionally, it’s exceptionally hard to trace.
As for Natalie O’Brien’s personal data – it’s clear that your records on your phone may not always be safe. If they’re accessible in this way then perhaps they’re accessible in other ways too. A lesson here in being secure and being wary that these breaches of trust do occur and have occurred in the past. At the end of the day, telecoms companies can see every call, image, text and so on that you send via their network.
Yet another story of dodgy dealings with people’s personal data – a worry for everyone, journalists in particular. Also, we’re only finding out now – that’s a long time after these events occurred.