A leading British mobile phone company has been accused of secretly selling personal customer information in return for “substantial sums” of money.
The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) claims that staff at the firm – which cannot be named for legal reasons – had sold “millions of records from thousands of customers without their knowledge”, according to a BBC report.
The sensitive data was allegedly sold to other firms who would cold-call the customers as their mobile contracts neared expiry.
Christopher Graham of the ICO said he was looking to prosecute the firm involved. He told the BBC the matter showed why prison sentences should be established for this kind of data theft.
"Many people will have wondered why and how they are being contacted by someone they do not know just before their existing phone contract is about to expire.
"We are considering the evidence with a view to prosecuting those responsible and I am keen to go much further and close down the entire unlawful industry in personal data.
"But, we will only be able to do this if blaggers and others who trade in personal data face the threat of a prison sentence.
"The existing paltry fines… are simply not enough to deter people from engaging in this lucrative criminal activity. The threat of jail, not fines, will prove a stronger deterrent."