The mobile phone directory

July 8th, 2009 § 2 comments

What the fuck is all the hoo-haa about with this mobile phone directory, then? Eh?

Several times this week I ‘ve had people email me with a rather urgent tone telling me I have up until this week to opt-out…

This has come from our legal department, please see below!

Early next week all UK mobiles will be on a directory which will mean that anyone will be able to access your numbers. It’s easy to unsubscribe but it must be done before the beginning of next week to make sure that you are ex-directory. You may want to suggest it to all your friends and family who have UK mobiles or they could be swamped by unsolicited messages and calls. Removal is recommended by the BBC – see link below.

(That particular quote was from a friend, I don’t know if that was his ‘telephone voice’ or not but it doesn’t sound like he’d written it. Too alarmist.)

First , lets just deal with the email message then, the directory itself.

The email says anyone will be able to access our numbers. Anyone can at the moment. You’ve seen the little boxes in the small print that you’ve either got to tick or leave blank? Well, that ticking or leaving blank gives the company you’re dealing with permission to take your phone number (or postal address or emaill address, depending on what the form/company/product) and pass it onto ‘partner companies’ or ‘companies we think you may be interested in’. To translate, they can sell your numbers. Your number is in the public domain. It can be bought and sold. You are no longer Ex-Directory as far as direct marketing is concerned.

The email also states that you must unsubscribe (which is also wrong, you need to be ‘removed’ from the directory) by the end of next week to be sure of that you are ex-directory.
Well, the end of next week could be any time depending on when the email was sent. Considering the BBC article is date 9 June 2009 and in it, it states that the directory site is going live ‘next week’, I would say 9th July is a bit late and we’re all buggered.
It sounds like if you weren’t ex-directory by 16th-ish june that’s it, you’re in for life. But you’re not.

It may be a nice thing to do to make family and friends aware of this directory, but a month after it going live, I’m not drowning in window sales men, pollsters and heavy breathers. Are you?

I fucking hate these fucking circular emails that are just wrong in the first place and have an unneccesarily alarming tone to them.

Removal is recommended by the BBC – see link below

Um. No it’s not.

I doubt my buddy wrote that. I hope he didn’t.

Apart from the issues surrounding where 118800 got the 15 million or so numbers it claims to have, what is the problem with an opt-out directory? I’m normally of the opinion that opt-in is the best thing, but for some reason, I don’t have a problem with this. No more than the landline directory, and infact I’m a little surprised it’s taken so long to come about.

Where the numbers have come from, although not stated specifically which brokers and lists these numbers were on, somewhere there is a little box that signifies that the numbers can be used for commercial purposes. If there isn’t, there is a problem with the data controllers of a company somewhere and not with the idea of a directory.
Remember, this directory and the company behind it are no different to any other direct marketing organisation. If you have a problem with this directory then you should also have a problem with the whole way data is bought and sold.
This directory is probably more accurately reflects peoples’ wishes than the landline directory, which the phone companies have to give their numbers to.

The issue of privacy is also dealt with rather simply and admirably.
They directory contacts you and tells you someone is trying to get in touch. If you are contacted by phone, you tell them no, if you don’t want to accept the call. If you get sent a text, ignore it. That has to be better than just being listed in a book ready for anyone, including teenagers skyving off school and finding people with funny names to abuse down the phone. Again and again… and again…

The opt-out is also still there, with no time limit on it. Apparently, the first time the directory contact you, they also give you an option to become ex-directory. And of course you could got to 118800 and opt-out there. Anytime.
Four weeks to get off their list is a bit much though.

Whether this directory actually works in practice and are as ethical as they reckon they are will remain to be seen, but the idea itself a mobile phone number directory, should be a cause for concern and they way they are doing it to try and ally peoples’ privacy concerns, should be should be welcomed. It could’ve been so different.

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§ 2 Responses to The mobile phone directory"

  • Damon says:

    All I wrote was ‘This has come from our legal department, please see below!’

    The rest of it, as you can probably guess… Came from our legal department.

    I do actually have a fundamental issue with this, and that is that unscrupulous companies sell your details on whether you permit them to or not, it can’t be tracked! Try signing up for a Tesco Clubcard, spell your surname deliberately wrong, tick the box to say you do not wish your details to shared with other companies, and watch the material with your mis-spelt name come flooding through your front door!

    And the email is well worth forwarding on, I’ve had several replies all saying thanks, I’ll remove my number straight away… Except for you Simo ;-)

    I also hate circular emails, and fair enough this one may contain a couple of errors. However, the bulk of it is correct and by forwarding it on you are doing your friends and family the favout of letting them decide for themselves. It’s hardly ‘forward this onto everyone you know and Bill Gates will come round and suck your cock’ is it?

    • Sim-O says:

      OK, I wasn’t sure as the email didn’t look like it was forwarded, the ‘fwd:’ in the subject or ‘>’ all down the side. I have just scrolled down to see your legal bods sig, hidden from view. It didn’t sound like you but, y’now…

      The first part is just a whinge and a moan about the these type of emails in general really and either your legal department is utter shite or the person that wrote that email must be the YTS kid. C’mon, the only she got right was that it’s a mobile phone directory and it’s easy to unsubscribe from it.

      I, in general, have a problem with all this data that is collected and used and abused with and without permission and stuff like ID card and teh National Database thingy are Bad Things. But you got to have a sense of proportion,
      which you legal person seems to have left at the door. Did she walk around the office wearing a sandwhich board with the slogan ‘The End Is Nigh!’ after wrighting that email?

      I am not ungrateful for the email, as a friend it’s nice that you look out for me, but FFS, tell these cunts that wright them to i) get it right and ii) calm the fuck down.

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