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Congress pushing stricter handling of mobile phone subscriber data

The rise in mobile phone subscriber data theft has prompted Congress to conduct an inquiry on the matter.

The Congressional hearing will mainly probe on the sufficiency of the counter measures that cell phone operators are instituting to secure client information. The body is also considering the enactment of laws which would impose stricter regulations in the handling of subscriber data.

Mobile phone data theft is gradually becoming rampant. During the past two weeks, mobile phone operators; Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, Cingular, and T-Mobile have instituted complaints against ‘data thieves’.

Most of the data dealers operate websites which offer subscriber information for a fee. The scheme usually involves an agent posing as a legitimate subscriber. He then contacts the carrier’s call center and asks for account or call details. The data gathered would then be sold online. LocateCell.com offers mobile phone subscriber information for $110. It is currently prohibited from acquiring or selling information by virtue of a preliminary injunction issued by a Trenton federal judge.

Operators are now enforcing stricter guidelines for their call center agents in handling subscriber information. However, some suspect that there are call center representatives who deliberately reveal this data, for a fee of course.

Despite the rise in data theft, there are carriers who still fail to comply with government directives to enforce stricter security measures. The Federal Communications Commission suggested a $100,000 penalty for AT&T and Alltel for their failure to show that they have initiated reforms to secure client data.

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