Phone Hacking and Regulation: Are We Better Than the UK?

Here’s a story pointing out that the phone ‘hacking’ that has caused so many headlines (and resignations) lately in the United Kingdom was possible because of a simple default setting on mobile phones sold in the UK, that no one took the trouble to fix and that no regulator was prepared to take responsibility for. It’s a fascinating sad story:

As I understand the story, all phones provided by particular providers had the same default password for checking messages, so that if you called somebody and they didn’t answer, you could use the standard password to access their messages (if they hadn’t changed the password, of course.)

Do Canadian mobile phone providers do better – at least since the UK hacking got headlines in about 2006 (which prompted some British providers to close the loophole)?

Would some regulatory body in Canada do better? In the UK they all seemed to point the finger at someone else, even the privacy authority. It seems to me that a number of our privacy authorities would have words to say about such a situation. Given that it’s telecom, probably the Privacy Commissioner of Canada would have jurisdiction. Even without order-making powers, I expect she would find a way to ensure a fix. Do you agree?

Whether they have the means to find such problems before they are widely exploited, I don’t know.

Are we better off than the British mobile phone users have been? Is US practice better?

Comments are closed.