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ISP Tiscali UK questioned over user's data security

Broadband ISP Tiscali UK has been accused of being lax with the security of its user's private personal details after it allowed a customer's phone number and address to be published in public directories, despite repeated requests for it to be removed.

To make matters worse the woman concerned was an activist who had passed national security information to UK authorities and feared for her life. The Register reports that she is now preparing a High Court case against the ISP for "reckless endangerment" and pursuing tens of thousands of pounds in compensation.

Meanwhile the governments Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which proved itself so inept when dealing with Phorm's secret BT trials, has backed the individual believing Tiscali failed to comply with the Data Protection Act.

The woman has changed her identity more than once in the twenty years since she was linked to national security issues involving special forces, but she and contacts remain concerned her enemies could still seek revenge. She is not listed on the electoral roll and care has always been taken to ensure her contact details did not appear in any directory.

She signed up to Tiscali broadband in 2004 and in 2007 decided to also subscribe to its phone service via a fully unbundled line. The firm took over the line on September 6 2007, having been told several times by the woman that the her details must not be shared with anyone. Tiscali sales representatives assured her the information would remain secret.

Despite the guarantees, Tiscali provided BT with the woman's name address and phone number sometime before the end of November 2007, the deadline for inclusion in the next phone book. BT - which is not responsible for checking whether competitors' customers are ex-directory - duly published it in February 2008, online to the whole world, as well as in thousands of paper copies distributed locally.

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