Wednesday, 11 July 2012

While Greek Telephone Company Gives People’s Data to Marketing Companies, in Germany They Hefty Debate About It

While Greek Telephone Company Gives People’s Data to Marketing Companies, in Germany They Hefty Debate About ItI got a phone call this morning. A friendly woman’s voice was informing me that I had won a vacation package by a tour operation “XY-whatever”. When I asked her where did she get my phone number and how comes that I win a vacation package, she told me “it was your phone number that won, and we got it through a CD-Rom by OTE” – the Greek half-privatized telephone company.
I wanted to know more about the whole issue and she connected me to another lady. She wanted to know my name and my telephone number first. Then she would give me more detailed information about my win – several days at a hotel of my preference from a long list they apparently had.
I told her, that she was supposed to have my phone number and that I wouldn’t give her my name before I know what it is all about, the terms and conditions of the whole deal.
Our conversation ended with the lady totally irritated and rather angry because I wouldn’t give her my personal data.

Then I remembered of the case of somebody who was working at a heating oil/utilities company, where they also used  a CD-Rom with telephone numbers. In that particular CD-Rom the phone numbers were listed according to the buildings in the Athens streets. That is if you would type “XY-whatever” Street Number 28, that would happen to be a multi-storey house, all the phone numbers belonging to residents would pop-up on your computer screen.
Of course, I can assume that all the marketing phone calls we receive by credit card instututes, mobile companies, healthy water filters etc they are working with the same scheme: CD-Rom By the OTE.
But my question is: is the OTE allowed to do that? Is there any Greek law allowing OTE to sell our private information to marketing companies and whoever has an interest to get a view in our data like phone numbers, street numbers etc?
Data Protection Debate in Germany
Currently,  there is a huge debate in Germany about a similar issue: Last month the German government passed a bill that allows government offices to sell people’s private information to marketing companies.
However German politicians went even further: through the bill they allow government registration offices to sell citizens’ private information to marketing firms and other interested companies.
“The legislation was approved last month by the German parliament, the Bundestag, and still has to be approved by the Bundesrat, the legislative body that represents the federal states. It allows citizens’ information filed with local registration offices to be sold to outside companies, though individuals can stop that by specifically requesting that their information be kept private. People living in Germany are required to inform such government offices of their residential locations and are also required to provide their new addresses when they move.”
Any registration office will sell citizens’ data like name, family name, title, address and eventually the date of death.
So far anyone who would know a registered citizens’ name, family name, date and place of birth, could ask the registration office for the address of the citizen against an average fee of 5 euro. Of course, when marketing companies start asking for massive citizens’ data the German state would earn much more: 81 million population x 2.5 euro = 200+ million euro…
Hefty criticism came from every German corner with  data protection rights groups, opposition politicians and even members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government engaged in a storm of protests.
Weekly DER SPIEGEL reported that the government most likely is going to change the legislation via parliamentary procedures after the outrage about the bill.
Apart from the data protection issue, critical politicians say further that the measure was whisked through parliament in an undemocratic and backhanded way.
“Legislation Passed During a Football Match
Critics are outraged over how the law was approved, saying it was rammed through by the Bundestag on the evening of June 28 — the same time the German national football team was playing Italy in the semi-finals of the European Football Championships.
The Bundestag was nearly empty on that evening. The few lawmakers who were there took up the issue just six minutes after the kick off, the Bild newspaper reported, and agreed to the measure without a discussion.”

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