Indians are selling your personal information!

Aractus 19, November, 2016

Continuing on from my security-based theme, let’s examine the claims made by a Fairfax investigation that a bunch of Indians are selling Telstra, Optus, and Vodafine customer details. According to the report, they (a company called AI Solutions as well as others) will sell anyone willing to pay: your name, your address, your date of birth, all your phone numbers, and your call history as well.

How did they get this sensitive data? Well according to the story, they have bought it directly from the Indian call centres that are contracted by the Telco’s to handle their customers. This just goes to prove that you cannot trust a non-Australian company to protect sensitive user data. But it’s much worse than that too.

Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone are crying foul – but they are the goddamned assholes responsible for this mess. This I think goes to show why it is unethical for companies to ask you for information which they do not need to know – like your date of birth, or your home address if you have a mobile with them. It also highlights why the metadata laws are huge potential beach of your human rights, and your privacy. For example, it means that a violent ex-partner can gain access to your information, and get the phone numbers of all your best friends all in one hit – just from purchasing your data from these pricks.

Indian people have a completely different culture to us, and generally speaking the kind of people who work in these call centres feel no obligation to treat their customer information as confidential. In fact, they often feel apprehensive towards wealthy cashed-up westerners that they have to talk to for their jobs, and god-only-knows what hours through the night. This is not an attack on Indian people, it’s just a reality – and even if people like this make up a minority in call centres it’s still a reality. Now if you don’t believe me, and you think I’m being too harsh – look up Indian scammers on Youtube, where you will find a multitude of videos containing Indians that work in call centres for the Microsoft Security Scam and often voice their opinions about the people they scam/rip-off; and they routinely deny that they are doing anything “wrong”. That last point is really important, because from listening to those calls I can tell you that many of them genuinely feel that they are entitled to scam the wealthy westerners and it does not bother their conscious – and they only difference between those Indian Scammers, and the Indians selling your data illegally is the call centre company they work for. And remember, this is India – even for people who do have respect for privacy, they are in a country that does not have the privacy laws that Australia has, and that alone creates a weakness where vulnerable Indians can be exploited to reveal confidential customer information.

I should point out that I love Indian people, I know quite a few in Canberra and they’re all great people. I just would never trust someone working in a foreign country with my personal information, and neither should you.

How should you respond? If you have a mobile phone with one of the companies listed above, I would highly suggest changing to another company and writing a letter of complaint explaining why. They are required to port your mobile number when requested, and if you are under contract I would suggest calling and asking to be released from it because they have broken their obligation to ensure that your sensitive information is stored safely and kept confidential. If they do not agree, I would refer the matter to the TIO. The only appropriate response in my opinion is a strong one to show these pricks that they should put their customers first, and not their profits by jeopardising your data. And the only response from these Muppets should be to move call centres back to Australia – at least for everything where customer information is required.

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