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Company director fined for illegally accessing mobile phone company’s customer database

By CreditMan Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Matthew Devlin, 25, from Halifax, Yorkshire, used details of when customers were due a mobile phone upgrade to target them with services offered by his own telecoms companies.

He had impersonated a member of Orange’s security team during calls and emails to legitimate mobile phone distributors, in an attempt to obtain passwords and login details to their customer database. He succeeded on one occasion, and was able to access the records of 1,066 customers.

Devlin, a director of three marketing and telecoms companies, appeared before Calderdale Magistrates’ Court yesterday. He was fined £500, plus £438.63 costs and an £50 victim surcharge.

ICO Head of Enforcement Stephen Eckersley said:

“Personal data is a valuable commodity. Devlin lied and manipulated to access this information for his own profit and now he’s facing a fine and a criminal conviction.

“EE swiftly alerted us to this breach and their security procedures allowed the ICO to identify Devlin as the perpetrator.”

Unlawfully obtaining or accessing personal data is a criminal offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. But perpetrators cannot be jailed the offence is punishable by way of ‘fine only’ - up to £5,000 in a Magistrates Court or an unlimited fine in a Crown Court.

Earlier this month deputy PM Nick Clegg backed the ICO’s call for stronger sentencing powers saying, “The penalties that exist at the moment are pathetic.”

Christopher Graham, Information Commissioner, said:

“Fines like this are no deterrent. Our personal details are worth serious money to rogue operators. If we don't want people to steal our personal details or buy and sell them as they like, then we need to show them how serious we are taking this. And that means the prospect of prison for the most serious cases.