Phone provider refused to give woman information about calls

A woman had received several calls from an unidentified person, which had alarmed her.

She contacted her phone provider and asked for details about calls made to her cell phone on several specific days. She asked for the dates and times she received calls, and the phone number/s of the person making the calls.

The phone provider refused to provide her with this information because it did not believe she was entitled to information about calls that had been made to her (“incoming telecommunications”). It considered that she was only entitled to information about calls she had made (“outgoing telecommunications”).

The Telecommunications Information Privacy Code (“the TIPC”)

Rule 6 of the TIPC states that individuals are entitled to the telecommunications information that a telecommunications agency (such as a phone provider) holds about them.

Under the TIPC, telecommunications information includes:
1. Subscriber information – the personal information the agency collects when an individual signs up for a phone;
2. Traffic information – any data associated with a telecommunication (making a call or sending a text message). This includes; the duration of a call, the number of the sender or caller and the number of the recipient. It also includes dialling and signalling information.
3. The content of the telecommunication (if this is recorded).

The information requested by the woman was traffic information about calls that had been made to her, and so we considered that she was entitled to request it under the TIPC.

We advised the phone provider of this, and noted that the TIPC does not draw any distinction between incoming and outgoing telecommunications.

The phone provider accepted our view, and agreed to provide the woman with the dates and times of calls made to her during the period she had requested.

However, it withheld details about the phone number/s of the calls that had been made to the woman under rule 6(4) of the TIPC.

Rule 6(4) says that a phone provider may refuse a request for traffic information if that information is linked traffic information which may reveal the identity of another individual.

We considered that because a person’s cell phone number may be linked to them, or to the subscriber, it could be withheld under rule 6(4), and we advised the woman of our view.

The woman was satisfied with the information that had been provided. We closed our investigation on this basis.

December 2012

Phone provider ─ telecommunications information ─ subscriber information ─ traffic information ─ Telecommunications Information Privacy Code; rule 6(4)


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