August 23, 2006 10:56 AM PDT

AT&T sues over unauthorized access to customer data

AT&T has joined the fight to keep unauthorized data brokers from obtaining and selling its customers' calling records.

On Wednesday, the company's services division filed a lawsuit in U.S district court in San Antonio, Texas, to block 25 unnamed "John Doe" defendants who have allegedly pretended to be customers to gain access to account information.

AT&T said that the so-called data brokers had fraudulently obtained records for some 2,500 customers. The company said this information was used mainly in legal and domestic disputes and that no driver's license numbers or sensitive financial data were accessible.

AT&T says it believes the lawsuit will help it identify the perpetrators through e-mail addresses and Internet Protocol addresses. Once it identifies the data brokers, the company plans to seek an injunction as well as a return of profits earned from selling customer information.

AT&T customers affected by the data breach have been notified and access to their online accounts has been frozen, the company said.

Earlier this year, the big four wireless phone companies in the U.S.--Cingular Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless--each filed lawsuits against companies that own Web sites that allegedly sell customer information. T-Mobile and Cingular have each won temporary restraining orders against perpetrators.

The lawsuits have prompted U.S. lawmakers, state attorneys general and the Federal Communications Commission to look more closely at the collection of consumer data.

AT&T said it has taken additional steps to prevent this type of activity in the future, but it didn't discuss specifics.

"Regrettably, there are always people looking for ways to circumvent the system," Priscilla Hill-Ardoin, chief privacy officer for AT&T, said in a statement. "But we intend to remain vigilant in order to keep our customers' information secure."

AT&T is currently a defendant in a privacy lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco over President Bush's domestic spy program. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has accused AT&T of illegally making its network available to the government for security surveillance.

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7 comments

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Suddenly...
they CARE about customer privacy???? Outrageous! These guys
really are about as arrogant as they come. BOYCOTT AT&T for
handing over customer records to the NSA!
Posted by robot999 (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
read between the lines
Yeah, AT&T really cares about your privacy:

&lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://news.cbsi.com/AT38T+revises+privacy+policy/" target="_newWindow">http://news.cbsi.com/AT38T+revises+privacy+policy/</a>
2100-1028_3-6086671.html&gt;
&lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2105967" target="_newWindow">http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2105967</a>&gt;

&lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70126-0.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70126-0.html</a>&gt;
&lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/" target="_newWindow">http://www.eff.org/legal/cases/att/</a>&gt;

Really, what they care about is the fact that these "data brokers"
are making money and AT&#38;T wants a part of that! This isn't
about your privacy, it's about their income!!

At least you came to the right conclusion - BOYCOTT AT&#38;T!!
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Link Flag
Just saving face
This suit is nothing more than a veiled attempt to save face with the public after they "freely" gave out every terabyte of data to the government.
Posted by Inetsec (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But that gladly had it over to the government
when they ask for it. No warrent need, they just gladly hand it over. If the EFF wins it's lawsuit, AT&#38;T better be prepaired to defend its self from lawsuits for allowing improper access by the government.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But they gladly had it over to the government
when they ask for it. No warrent need, they just gladly hand it over. If the EFF wins it's lawsuit, AT&#38;T better be prepaired to defend its self from lawsuits for allowing improper access by the government.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why isnt the EFF jumping on these data brokers?
When the Government is given this data legally, the EFF runs amok but when AT&#38;T tries to protect the customer's privacy from unauthorized groups, all anyone can talk about is the legal access by the Government. What a bunch of crap.
Posted by joeinflorida (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
RE
"When the Government is given this data legally, the EFF runs amok but when AT&#38;T tries to protect the customer's privacy from unauthorized groups, all anyone can talk about is the legal access by the Government. What a bunch of crap."

The legality of AT&#38;T's giving data to the government has not been determined. There is a federal court decision that said the program was illegal, but that decision is currently under appeal.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
 

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