Wed, Jun 23, 2004 - Page 10 News List

DGT releases data security report

PERSONAL INFORMATION Taiwan Cellular and Mobitai Communications do the best job of protecting their customers' data while FarEasTone performs the worst


If you fear for the security of your personal data held by mobile phone service providers, the result of an official personal information protection review could be a useful guide in choosing your operator.

Taiwan Cellular Corp (台灣大) and Mobitai Communications Co Ltd (東信電訊) were ranked earlier this week by the Directorate General of Telecommunications (DGT) as the leaders in protecting customer personal information from their peers.

The two mobile operators were followed in sequence by First International Telecom (大眾電信), KG Telecommunications Co (和信電訊), state-run Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), TransAsia Telecommunications Inc (泛亞電信) and Far Eas-Tone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信), according to a review conducted by the directorate general between May 21 and June 18.

Far EasTone, which rated last in the review, said it had started adopting necessary measures for better personal information protection. For example, FarEasTone began concealing the three digits in the middle of a customer's mobile phone number on all billing statements as of June 15, the company said.

Chunghwa said it demanded branch chiefs to strictly implement inspection by checking whether the number of times that staffers access its database tallies with the number of applications it receives.

It will also install an alarm mechanism in its computer system that will automatically report any suspicious access of the database to its system administrators, Chunghwa said.

The review includes the relevant regulations in the Law for the Protection of Computer-managed Personal Information (電腦處理個人資料保護法), such as requirements to manage, collect, utilize and maintain personal information, plus two additional conditions about consumer protection measures and enhanced personal data protection approaches.

Though Taiwan Cellular and Mobitai performed the best amongst a total of seven local mobile operators inspected, there was still room for further improvement, the DGT said.

The confidential agreements signed between mobile operators and their employees and outsourcing partners should state clearly the amount of compensation required for information leaks, the telecoms regulator said.

The DGT also demanded that mobile operators strengthen their internal audits and education about personal information protection for employees, as well as supervision of personnel in information system departments, who have the greatest access to company databases.

Increasingly rampant personal data theft has spurred public concern and demand for enhanced protection of consumers' personal information.

In late April, police found that over 15 million people's personal data had been obtained from telecommunication companies and financial institutions and had been bought and used by criminal organizations in a variety of scams.

According to the DGT, data-theft victims are eligible for three months of free service, free phone number changes and up to NT$100,000 in compensation.

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