Norwich student shocked by private data on phone

When student Emil Dauncy's Samsung mobile phone broke he was grateful to be offered a loan replacement by the 3 Store in Haymarket, Norwich while his was repaired.

But when he got home to Willow Lane, near Pottergate, Norwich, and checked it over, he was shocked to discover the 3 Skype model contained someone else's personal data – including text messages from a GP and explicit photographs.

Emil, 30, a PhD student at the University of East Anglia, called the phone company's customer services department to alert them – and was incensed to be told it was not their responsibility but that of the previous customer who should have erased the information.

He said: 'I feel very passionate about privacy and security and I believe the store should have checked it and reset it before loaning it out.

'The message from the doctor contained both a name and an appointment time; the photographs appeared to be of the guy's girlfriend.' Mr Dauncy said the phone was also logged on to the previous user's Facebook account, enabling even more data to be accessed.

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He said: 'Norwich is a small city and it would be easy to find out even more information about the user and steal his identity.

'If I had been a sex pest, I could have phoned the girl up and harrassed her because her number was there.'

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He said he felt there was a moral obligation to contact the previous user and tell him his private information had been left on the phone.

'The company have been hassling me about the individual who served me, but I don't want to get them into trouble – there should be a system in place to stop this sort of thing happening,' he said.

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said: 'We would ask Mr Dauncy to make a complaint to us for we feel it would be very difficult for the phone company to say they are not responsible for removing the information; the phone is their property and they are the data controller.'

She said in cases where a complaint could not be worked out on an informal basis, the office had formal powers it could exercise.

A spokesman for the company said: 'We are in contact with the customer and are investigating their claims.'

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