O2 'apologises' for number data leak

O2 'apologises' for number data leak
O2 looking to limit damage from web leak outrage

O2 has published an apology over today's data leak which showed user's numbers were made available to all websites.

A simple site was set up to prove what information is sent when a page is accessed using a mobile browser, and O2 was shown to be revealing mobile numbers.

O2 has finally responded to the issue via its blog after suffering a deluge of Twitter comments from outraged users, but has stopped short of apologising for leaking the data - rather only for the concern caused:

"We have seen the report published this morning suggesting the potential for disclosure of customers' mobile phone numbers to website owners. We investigated, identified and fixed it this afternoon. We would like to apologise for the concern we have caused."

Going on for days

When asked how long this has been happening, the network responded with: "In between the 10th of January and 1400 Wednesday 25th of January, in addition to the usual trusted partners, there has been the potential for disclosure of customers' mobile phone numbers to further website owners."

The network has confirmed the problem was fixed as of 1400 on 25 January, and "the only information websites had access to is your mobile number, which could not have been linked to any other identifying information we have about customers."

O2 has blamed "technical changes we implemented as part of routine maintenance" for the fault, which had the "unintended effect of making it possible in certain circumstances for website owners to see the mobile numbers of those browsing their site."

The problem has raised much wider issues for the phone industry as a whole - O2 has confirmed it shares the data with third parties that it deems 'trustworthy'... although has not disclosed which sites these are and the level of information passed.

There's no mention of compensation for users affected by the breach, despite calls from the disgruntled public, and such action seems likely in the light of action being taken to plug the hole.

However, the Information Commissioner has stated he will be investigating the issue, so this might not be the last we hear of the O2 data leak saga.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.