back to article Mobile directory made legal threats to get personal details

The company behind a controversial new directory of private mobile phone numbers threatened O2 with legal action when it refused to provide its customers' personal details, The Register has learned. Start up firm Connectivity, which will launch its 118800 service next week, approached O2 18 months ago for access to its …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    The first time I receive a call from these clowns..

    ..they will be told in no uncertain terms to bugger right off and never to call me again. Any subsequent calls will be considered harassment and reported as such.

  2. Cameron Colley

    Anyone opted out yet?

    Does anyone know how you opt out of this service? Can I call my operator and ask them to intervene?

    Sorry for the question in comments but I think it may be helpful for people to know how to opt out of this without giving their details to the scum who published their number in the first place.

  3. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    "for the business to be viable..."

    " would have to use an opt-out consent model."

    Guess it just ain't viable then, n'est-ce pas?

    Just because your business model depends on being sneaky, immoral and aggressive in your approach - it don't make it ok to be so.

    And for once, I have to say "well done" to the mobile networks.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Could always try......


  5. Tanuki
    Thumb Down


    How long before this outfit's calling-number range is "outed" so we can pre-emptively block it?

  6. The Original Ash

    Opting Out


    "So how do you opt out? Well in Connectivity's parlance you can elect to become ex-directory by :

    "texting the letter 'E' to 118800 from the mobile phone you want to be made ex-directory or you can call us on 0800 138 6263. Standard network charges apply. The first time 118 800 contacts you, you will be sent an SMS reminding you about how to become ex-directory. Please allow up to 4 weeks for your ex-directory request to take effect."

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Opting Out

    I have a number of mobile numbers and live in a small villiage <1000, so when I checked and they had more than entry for my name, I rung them asking to be removed. Basicly I was told to tell them all the numbers I have and we will remove the matches. I told them to just remove my name. I don't know wheather they actaully did it though. I suspect not!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let them dare call me

    I will tell them to f**k off in no uncertain terms and if they call me again I will report them. Also, I do not agree to calling them to opt out. It should be Opt in and if the ICO do not agree with that they are chumps. My number is personal!

  9. Tawakalna

    opting out

    although the website is supposed to make this possible, it's actually very difficult and the page won't even let you do it anymore. If you call them to opt-out with the "help" of an "advisor" it takes 5 minutes to get through the call-handling, then you'll wait for another ten, then get cut off.

    TPs might be useful for preventing sales and marketing calls but it won't stop people just randomly ringing you up or finding your number even if you don't want them to call.

  10. Coalescence


    4 weeks for opt-out? Why?

    Also why should I pay to be opted out?

  11. Myopic Aardvark

    @The Original Ash 13:02

    In other words, you can only opt out (or check to make sure your details aren't on there) by providing your details.

    So in order to opt out you have to opt in?


  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...should anybody have to waste time and money opting out of something they never agreed to in the first place?

  13. Ad Fundum
    Thumb Up

    To opt out ...

    Mosey on over to and follow the instructions on-screen.

  14. Adam Salisbury
    Thumb Up

    @ Original Ash

    Cheers, done already :)

  15. Alex 0.1

    Interesting development

    At the time of the original articles about this "service", it was only possible to opt-out by texting them (at your cost) or phoning them from the mobile from which you want to opt-out (at your cost), while allowing you to register the number in the first place simply via their website (free, of course) - Seems the company has picked up on the obvious fallacy of that, as there's now a way to remove your number from the directory via their website, at:

    That is, of course, assuming the page isnt really just there so that they can validate for themselves that numbers are real and in use, and re-sell them on as a "higher quality" list of working numbers. Going from the laughable way the "we've found too many people matching you" message discussed in the previous articles on this would suddenly find you after entering random bullshit information and so is clearly just in place to harvest additional details to pad out the database, it wouldnt much suprise me.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Useless Regulators and Out of date data

    Last year Phonepayplus identified the major cause behind the 104% rise in complaints about unsolicited chargeable premium rate sms was the use of 'third party' data lists of mobile phone numbers obtained from marketing companies.

    These data lists are several years old and many of the numbers on the lists have been recycled.

    Connectivity confirmed in a statement "having found alternative reliable sources of data" .

    Connectivity and Ofcom and the ICO all want taking outside and giving a good whipping.

  17. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!


    According to their site Ofcom have outsourced regulation ( of these clowns to PhonepayPlus, they have a complaints page here...

  18. gg

    Please allow up to 4 weeks for your ex-directory request to take effect.

    Four weeks?

    delete from directory where number = '07123456789';


    Could be done overnight ready for next day at the absolute latest.

  19. Jack Garnham
    Thumb Down

    4 weeks!?

    "Please allow up to 4 weeks for your ex-directory request to take effect."!?!?

    I bet it only takes about 4 minutes for a new entry to be added and propagated through their systems, though.

  20. Bakaman

    You Dare!

    Give those people my number, if you do, I'll sue your ass!!

  21. RichyS

    New business plan. Look for investors...

    I have a brilliant new business plan.

    I'm going to announce to the world that I have a database of everyone's number. If they want, they can opt out by sending a text message to a premium rate shortcode (say, 50p per message), or calling an 0870 number (50p per minute, mobile charges may vary).

    Do I have a database? Do I feck. But I reckon I'll make enough money by people 'opting out'!

    Any VCs want to through some cash my way to spend on a website, call centre, and some bean bags and table football?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @AC who suggested "TPS"

    Doesn't help, a lot of people ignore it. Reporting them makes little difference. I have reported British Gas to TPS more than once to no avail.

    Now I just scream obscenities down the phone when they call, since being helpful and considerate to the poor call centre droid and explaining the situation doesn't seem to help either.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like to be anonymous on this

    As I have commented elsewhere, presumably a pay-as-you-go phone number (like mine!) that has no name attached to it will not appear in the directory unless it has been given out as a contact to a company or whatever and been passed on from that source. If so, I will want to know the reason why.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Where did they get the data?

    Is it possible, with their dodgy grasp of the legal situation and their complete disrespect for ethical behaviour, that their data was sourced from the TPS?

    They could try to argue that because they are not supplying sales or marketing calls, then they should be able to use the numbers held by the TPS. Either way, they should declare where they got the numbers, unless there is something they're hiding.

    Also, why do you have to phone from the mobile whose number you want removed from their system? Why do you have to pay (SMS or call) to opt out?

  25. Anonymous Coward


    So the Telecoms companies said "hey no you are not having our lists" as we respect the privacy of our clients.

    Now all we need is for the ISP's to tell Phorm to Phuck right of (in the name of respecting their clients privacy)

  26. EddieD
    Black Helicopters


    O2 and Orange acting positively on behalf of their customers' privacy. I have to say I'm chuffed.

    If O2 are being honest about this, I don't think I need to worry as I have never, ever, ever given my mobile number to anyone except personal friends - no businesses, no facebooks, no online sales sites - I give my land-line number and I can ring in to my answer phone from my mobile to check any messages - and then ring on my office phone.

    What, me, paranoid?

    Who said that?

    All the best,

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Does the system even work?

    Has anyone actually been on the receiving end of one of their contact attempts yet, or are we all too wise to hand over our money and details :-) ?

    Paris, because she'll hand over her details for money.

  28. Whitter
    Thumb Up

    Congratulations where due

    Well done O2!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Their phone number

    Just opted out, the text message you receive comes from 118800 so if they use the same number for connecting calls, it shouldn't be too hard to block/screen them!

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Yiiiieeee Haaaarrrr

    Makes you wonder what the point of having a data protection act is when quite clearly these cowboys should have had their drives confiscated by now. Still might be a good time to revisit one of my favourite videojug clips :)

    How to deal with telemarketers with just one word.

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    on my own

    From what i've read the way they get their data is from marketing companies etc. Our phone numbers have got there somehow either by missing a tick box or people just breaking the rules.

    Am I the only one that's not bothered about this?

    They don't give out numbers they only connect directly with our permission - This is fine by me

    They ask permision before putting someone through and identify them to you - I'm cool with that, it's like having a secretary.

    They charge £1 for the connection - Telemarketing departments can get our data quicker, easyer and cheaper 10 fold from other sources .

    I can see this system has it's uses. Getting hold of people you have lost contact with, getting hold of someone when you've lost/broken your mobile.

    Why do people think that people that they don't know, would actually be interested in spending £1 getting in contact with them.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Burn the bastards

    Anyone got an address for their offices and data center ?

    I trust their 'remove me' web page as much as I would the promise of cheaper electricity from a US based telemarketer, the only secure way to protect our privacy would be to make sure they can't operate .......

  35. Blacklight


    Stunning geography.

    Apparently (on their system) Birmingham is in Warwickshire, so that's a sizeable chunk of the Midlands in the wrong place...

  36. Anonymous Coward

    New Telephony Regulation

    Perhaps the entire telephone directory system should become like the voters roll:

    A full list, available to legitimate bodies (emergency services, government agencies); and

    An edited list that people opt into, that is open for anyone to phone.

    Since the list is government controlled, there is NEVER any ambiguity about where the permission came from to appear on the edited list (ha, don't start me don't he government list).

    Sadly I suspect the government would argue that these "services" are creating jobs. But are they jobs in the UK ?

  37. This post has been deleted by its author

  38. Anonymous Coward


    I agree with earlier posters, a tirade of abuse is the most satisfying response to unsolicited calls, even though it probably doesn't make any difference in the long term.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @Alex 0.1

    Brilliant ... let *them* pay

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Of course it should be opt in, same as all these type of get rich quick off of others private details schemes.

    I would not be comfortable with having to tell a company my mobile number exists in order to ask if they would please not list it.

    I think one needs a free check service that doesn't need to go via the company for them to note what is being looked up; to see whether they have one's number in the first place.

  41. Someone

    Did the networks provide any help?

    I’d like to know if the networks’ refusal to pass on data has been total. It appears that Connectivity have also stated that recycled numbers can’t appear in their directory. [1] The only way I can see this being true is if all the networks have given Connectivity their list of recycled numbers and the date on which they were reissued. The responses from O2 and Orange suggest that this isn’t the case. It’s one thing to have the right name and number, but an out-of-date address. It’s something else to have the right name and address, but someone else’s number.

    The directory might be 99% correct or only 51%. Unless Connectivity come clean about where they got the numbers from, we can only guess. It will be left for individuals to try to work out where things have gone wrong, one £10 subject access request fee at a time.

    The Time’s article made me laugh. It reads, “It then decided it was more ‘relevant’ for people to choose to opt in or out when someone first tried to get hold of them.” [2] What is it with data pimps and that word ‘relevant’? It’s Phorm and their ‘unavoidable notice’, all over again. Maybe we don’t want relevant. Maybe we just want more control.



  42. David 166
    Thumb Up

    Makes you think

    Well first off all it looks like O2 and Orange have come up trumps, but it wont be long before they launch their own service using their own information, so of course they wont share. They will be sitting back and watching 118 800 go to the wall and thinking thank god we didnt go first. Hopefully they will learn from their mistakes and go opt in only from day one.

    Opt in is the only way forward. Companies like mobile118 who got it right from day one are thinking told you so!

  43. mrmond

    opt out.

    When you register with orange, whiich you don't have to by the way, you're asked if you want to be included in their own directory service and if you want to be included for any marketing etc.

    If you say no they flag it on the system. You can ring up to check if you're not sure if you're opted in or out.

    Having always opted out on my own numbers with both payg and contract I still got contacted occasionally from firm asking if I want to upgrade.

    Having worked for Orange for a number of years I always asked where they got my number from.

    If they said they were connected with orange in some way I was able to tell them they were lying and demand they removed my number from their system.

    Any company is legally obliged to do so when asked.

    A lot of these companies auto dial/sms a telephone range asking you to get in touch which then confirms the number to them ( like spam email) and then pass on these lists to others.

    Orange and O2 are quite right to refuse as directory services, unless the law has changed, collect mobile numbers from directory lists, only business/private home numbers (unless XD of course)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @ on my own

    While I can understand your position, and in theory the service being offered is, as you say, safe, it does open up the question of how easy it would be for an unscrupulous company to obtain the same data and then bombard people with phonecalls.

    Or to take it one stage further, could this company provide bulk access to certain telemarketing operations that would reduce the £1 cost - yes, for a one-off call would deter most cold callers. But if you could obtain access to 1,000,000 numbers for £10,000, you've suddenly brought the cost per lead into financially viable realms!

  45. popper
    Thumb Down

    @Chris Williams

    @By Chris,

    is it these guys Chris ?

    if so, its interesting that they are listed for the Purpose 4 and NOT Purpose 3 etc

    "Purpose 4

    Staff Administration

    Purpose Description:

    Appointments or removals, pay, discipline, superannuation, work management or other personnel matters in relation to the staff of the data controller.

    Data subjects are:

    Staff including volunteers, agents, temporary and casual workers

    Relatives, guardians and associates of the data subject"

    using gives only two companies under the "Connectivity" name search

  46. Paul 86

    @@ on my own

    Its not a case of 'if' but 'when' these sleazebags sell the list onto telemarketers. With an incomplete and inaccurate list and a service so many will reject they don't have a viable business plan, their success rate is going to be vanishingly small and they aren't going to get many suckers to try twice if they charge for failed calls - which will be all of them to my number for starters.

    When the headline business goes down the tube their only asset will be a dubious quality list for sale to dubious marketeers. Can you guess why I'm not giving them any clue I even have a mobile...

  47. Anonymous Coward

    Get out while you can

    Opt in only - give people the choice

  48. saabpilot
    Thumb Down

    Opting out by going Ex directory - now i wonder what ...

    Ive checked myself out and they dont appear to have me. Thankyou Orange !


    Given their greedy attitiude to personal information - i wonder what happends to the data they accumalate for all those X-directory entrie requests they'll have on their webserver ? Will they sell that ? do i think i can trust their answers? em let me think .... yes/no ... yes/no .... yes/no....

    .............................................NO I DONT not a word of it.

    I must now bing and learn that Derick and Clive sketch, I need to be word perfect and ready for the 1st unsolicited sales call :)

  49. Da Weezil

    Bend over Britian...

    Once again the ICO is happy to see us bent over for the furtherance of commercial interests. It seems they don't consider this to be "marketing calls", nor do they have a problem with our data being sold on for purposes other than that which is was given.

    Looks like we will have to look to Europe to get the "privacy in communications" referred to in the directive. Time the ICO was disbanded and replaced by a proper regulator with teeth and an appetite for the work. Just like the Phorm fiasco, the ICO has failed totally to protect the public from both unauthorised use of our data and unwanted commercial intrusions.

    Here's a thought that might be worth pursuing, if data is permitted to be passed onto 3rd party marketing partners, how can this square with the calls being "non marketing" ? Either our data is being used for a permitted marketing purpose or it is an unauthorised use outside of marketing- cant have it both ways can they?

    Notice how lax data protection regimes in the UK are attracting the parasites like flies round a T**d?

  50. popper

    weres my commercial pre payed fees for the use of MY data ?

    Doh! never mind the single section i referenced above, i misread it to only mean section 4 not al 4 sections, ohh, and edit would be a very good thing here too Elreg ;)

    "Connectivity confirmed in a statement it had planned legal action to get access to operator data. "Exactly as all the landline directory services were entitled to request telephone number data from BT, 118800 is also legally entitled to request data from telecommunications companies," it said."

    would the Connectivity executive please provide to chris and the readers, here and now, their Legal councils name,address and the legal advice given to them, and the exact legislation, section, and clause(s) they were/are going to use to try and obtain this personal and private data ?

    how do they (Connectivity) intent getting a UK legally binding written signed permission contract from me and the other owners of their Phone data property for their commercial profit ?,

    how do they (Connectivity) intent to enter in to personal commercial nagotiations with me and others to arrange our commercial fees owed for the use of our data property.....payed in cash, at 8.30am, every other thursday at the front door of my main residence as per my basic commercial contracts terms foe the use of my data propertys after a personally CEO signed and noterised contract at my kichen table (or will be when you have payed my advance initial pre payed fees so i can buy a table OC )at a time of my choosing

    etc etc ;)

  51. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Opting out...

    Well I've been to their website and opted out, even though I'm not entirely sure I was on their system in the first place, in which case, I've just given them my number.

    They say I'll now be marked as "ex-directory" if someone tries to contact me but but there was, however, no option to say "I don't want my number passed on to anyone, anywhere, any time which strikes me as dubious.

    Still, I've saved their number on my phone under the name "Junk", so anything that appears from it will be ignored!

  52. Jon Thompson 2


    ...swapping personal details like this breaks the Data Protection Act.

    If I receive a message from them, I'll be making a DPA complaint. If we all do so, we can sink the bastards and get the law tightened up.

  53. Mr Bear

    Can we just...

    ... use the 1188000 service to get put through to the private mobile number of the managing director of Connectivity and get them to make sure we are removed from their list straight away? After all if the MD believes in their product they will have all their details in the system so we can contact them.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    A good match.....

    ...for Phorm, expect a merger soon.

    I tried out their service via the web, they appear to have no record of me.

    I don't like the opt-out form either, not only has it a stupid captcha wotsit, but they're asking you to enter a number that you don't know they've got. I would advise everyone not to opt themselves out until these pond life actually contact them, otherwise how do you know that they won't use the numbers they glean and some data mining of other sources to match people up to their mobile number.

    I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that there are a class of businesses that need to be nuked from orbit, just to be sure....

  55. chris 130

    Hot tip for when these charletans call

    Ask them hold, go outside and mow the lawn.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    @Cameron Colley

    There are two numbers on their website. You can text from the number you want to remove. Or ring their 0800 number up

  57. Chris Simmons

    Virgin Mobile

    Have just told me that they did not sell their user data to connectivbastardy. Now all I need to hear is that they are scrapping any work with phuckorm.

  58. Chris Simmons

    Removing numbers

    I just rang the 0800 number from my landline and had both my better halfs' number and my own removed.

    The chap with whom I spoke was very understanding of the privacy issues and as wel as assuring me about the possible "marketing" use of the numbers voiced his own concerns about the service - do be honest he did not believe the "service" will survive.

    The two numbers have been marked as ex-directory but not expunged as removal would lead to the reinstatement during the next phase of db update.

    The reason for the four-week delay in "removal" is that connectivity are only paying a third party for a four-weekly update to the db; they are not performing the actions themselves, instead farming it out to that (un-named) third party for sanitisation.

    I have additionally written to phonepayplus, given them all the details of my complaint and if I find either of our numbers on there in future I have given notice of legal action, not limited to, but including, misuse of private information, possibly illegally obtained private information, other DPA abuses and extortion based upon the fact that it will cost the user to opt-out of the "service" given their standard removal instructions.

  59. John Allison

    (il)legal threats

    Errr, the spamflingers might be entitled to REQUEST information, that does not mean the ISP's are obliged to hand it over.

    If they are too thick to understand the meaning of request then they surely cannot be trusted with private information. I can't see them being any better than politicians or (un)civil servants!

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do *not* call 118800 to opt out

    This is their way of collecting valid mobile numbers - they have no intention of opting you out, they are using this purely to collect numbers.

  61. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    Remind you of somebody?

    I only ask because what we have here is a company with a business model that will only work if they adopt sneaky, underhand practices and then try to take the moral high ground when these practices are called into question.

    Are they perhaps related to Phorm? We should be told.

  62. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Here are their own words - my correspondence

    Note: I didn't use my own name :-). I start from the premise of not beating people up if I want to have information, they too could make mistakes (basic algo; assume c*ckup before evil, unless it's MS).

    They may have been agressive in data acquisition according to the article, but at least their communication is polite, swift and to the point.

    My email to them:


    I would like to know the route by which I can (a) establish if I am present in this directory and (b) -if true- establish the route by which you have acquired that information.

    I don't doubt you accept data in good faith, but my many years with Data Protection have shown me that my data rights are far from managed well - so badly that I started to consult on the matter. You can email me at xxx

    [Side note: this is one of the DPA flaws - you get contacted by someone, and when you ask how they got your data you're told they have "bought a list" - there appears to be no decent route to force such a company to indicate where they got the data from so you can go after the bastards that resell your info without permission. But I digress]

    Their answer:


    Dear Mr xxx

    Thank you very much from your comments, we do only buy data in good faith and carry out very stringent audits on all of our data suppliers. The quickest way for you to find out if we have you on our database would to do a search on yourself (this will be free of charge - you are charge nothing at this point).

    If you refer to our privacy policy page on our website full details of where to write to and the information needed to enable you to find out where we obtained your number are there.

    Please ignore the £10.00 fee request, this in no longer applicable.

    We have to ask you for a certain amount of information to be able to track back where your number was obtained. We can assure you this information is not used for any other purpose apart from that.

    By the end of today we will have a facility available on our website so that you can remove yourself from the directory.

    Kind regards

    [I have removed the name]

  63. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Phone directories?

    What use are phone directories for individuals anyway? when was the last time you looked someone up in one?

    For them to work it would need to publish your home address too. Talk about stalkers charter.

  64. This post has been deleted by its author

  65. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Note Directory Enquires is opt out.

    As is Phorm. Of course unlike DE if you block cookies or scrub your cache you don't stay opted out.

    You have to request to go ex-directory. It seems that where landlines are concerned most people are not that bothered.

    But this is not a service provided (say) jointly by all the mobile phone companies.

    Its a business. And it links A.N.Other to you more or less wherever you are.

    With data that's 5 years out of date (and I guess the caller pays for the number up front) it won't be in business for very long. And what about that very poor attitude to data protection.

    Was it started by ex-govt employees?

  66. Law
    Paris Hilton


    I'm assuming these guys have sold my old number, as well as my wifes current number because we opt out of everything - no matter what the company.... and the reason I left tmobile was when I started getting cold called by lots of different companies just after I got my renewal letter from them... same with my wife... I won't ever been going back to them...

    Amusingly when they asked why I was leaving, and I said because of cold calls from people they sold my number to, they actually asked for my new number with o2 so they could inform me of future offers?!?! ODFO!

  67. Simon B

    Thank you Orange :)

    Thank you Orange :)

  68. Ozwadi Ogolugi
    Thumb Down


    If I ever get the first call from this service it will be the last time they ever call me!!! This will be due to me calling their mothers various insulting names for a prelonged amount of time or until they hangup....

  69. Princess Elke

    Leave them talking

    I had a problem with cold calling on a BT landline. I tried abuse, it didn't work, they are made of stern stuff these cold callers, I asked not to be contacted but they just got someone else to call who would say "oh, I’m soooo sorry, they haven't put into the computer that you don't want to be contacted, but whilst your on the phone" argh. so I came up with a cunning plan, rather than get stressed out about it, I would answer the phone and as soon as I realised it was a cold caller I put the phone on the arm of the chair, left them speaking to Mrs Thin Air, while I went off and did something far more interesting. It seems to work for me because the calls do eventually stop; after all they are wasting their time and money, not mine.

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