Orange users angered over response to e-mail data breach

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has received complaints from Orange users whose e-mail addresses were accidently disclosed in a marketing letter from its customer relations division.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has received complaints from Orange users whose e-mail addresses were accidently disclosed in a marketing letter from its customer relations division.

The letter exposed the e-mail addresses of 1,107 Orange users, prompting many to complain on a Computer Weekly blog about Orange's customer service and the possible breach of the Data Protection Act.

Orange acknowledged the breach, and the ICO confirmed that it had received a number of complaints in connection with the breach.

Orange has written to people who complained, saying:

"Thank you for your most recent e-mail.

"Whilst Orange acknowledges that you remain unhappy, please be assured that a full investigation has been completed. We consider that this matter does not constitute a breach in the network terms by Orange, as such, no further action is deemed necessary and your case has now been closed.

"I trust this clarifies Orange's final position."

The letter was signed by Michael Warren of Orange's executive office.

But comments on the blog suggest that Orange customers are less than happy. "What a bunch of tossers they really are. How can they say they have done nothing wrong," said one.

Another said the letter appeared to be an automated response, but noted that Orange appeared to have confused his original complaint with another.

Another letter, signed by Pauline Roberts from Orange's executive office, refused to release the customer from his contract. "Orange fully acknowledges your views and request for release of contract. However, we are unable to do so, as we do not feel this course of action is justified," it said.

An Orange spokesman said, "We recently sent a small number of customers an e-mail requesting feedback on our online services. We'd like to apologise for an error which meant that a number of customers' e-mail addresses were not hidden from view in the mail. We're now reviewing our e-mail policy to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

"Please be assured that an extensive internal investigation was launched once the error was discovered and we have contacted the Information Commissioner Officer (ICO) to make them aware. We will continue to review our processes and work with the ICO to ensure this situation does not happen again."

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