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Business

Telekom Privacy Scandals Multiply Amid Calls for Data Protection

Deutsche Telekom admitted to retaining details of supervisory board members' phone calls in a further data protection slip-up, prompting calls for new, wide-ranging measures to protect customers' privacy.

A phone bill with several telephone numbers highlighted in pink

Data on board members' personal phone calls was illegally maintained, Telekom said

A day after disclosing the theft of personal data of 17 million mobile phone customers, Deutsche Telekom said Sunday, Oct. 5, that it held on to information related to mobile phone calls made by some supervisory board members, German business daily Handelsblatt reported.

Telekom offers to pay private telephone and Internet costs for its supervisory board members as well as those of it subsidiaries. Because some board members had requested detailed connection data including the numbers dialed, when a call was placed as well as call duration, that information was filed with other paid bills in the supervisory board's office, Telekom said.

"The people affected have said the data was not analyzed or misused, and the procedures have been changed," Telekom spokesman Stephan Broszio added.

All the records concerned have been sealed and detailed call information is no longer being provided, the company said.

Calls for better privacy protection

Dark clouds over a Telekom sign

The clouds of privacy scandals aren't blowing over at Telekom

The mishap comes on the heels of Germany's largest data theft scandal, which broke over the weekend when Deutsche Telekom admitted Saturday that 17 million customers' private details -- including their name, address and phone number, were stolen in 2006.

The German government has already called for new measures to protect consumers' privacy, but politicians said on Monday that the proposed rules don't go far enough.

"The government's plans are not grand strategy that we need to protect consumers," Social Democrat Sebastian Edathy told the daily Neue Osdnabruecker Zeitung on Monday.

Companies that know their customers' private information has been stolen or lost should be legally required to inform the public on the scope of the abuse, Edathy added.

"Customers have to be informed immediately when their information lands in the wrong hands," said Christian Democrat Wolfgang Brosbach. "This is a company responsibility that we should put into law."

The German Association of Criminal Investigators (BdK) called for the resignation of Telekom head Rene Obermann.

"Either he did not know that 17 million mobile phone numbers were stolen from his company or he consciously remained silent about what he knew," BdK head Klaus Jansen told the Neue Osdnabruecker Zeitung. "In any case, he is no longer acceptable."

Obermann apologized to customers in an interview on Sunday and said the company had terminated two employees' contracts over the matter. He added that authorities had begun an investigation into how details on nearly half of Deutsche Telekom's mobile phone customers were stolen.

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