Home SECURITY Belgian company Proximus illegally collects data from half the world’s population and transfers it to US authorities

Belgian company Proximus illegally collects data from half the world’s population and transfers it to US authorities

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Belgian company Proximus illegally collects data from half the world’s population and transfers it to US authorities

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Belgian company Proximus illegally collects data from half the world’s population and transfers it to US authorities

The company evaluates the “trustworthiness” of each mobile user to allow them to register accounts on the Internet.

European Digital Rights Organization NOYB claims that a Belgian telecommunications company and a US-based fraud detection company are violating privacy laws by collecting and sharing mobile phone data from half the world’s population and using it to create personalized trustworthiness scores.

The European Digital Rights Center NOYB (“None of Your Business”) filed complaint to the Belgian Data Protection Authority on behalf of a group of unnamed plaintiffs who allege that their privacy has been violated.

The accused are:

  • BICS is a telecommunications company that cooperates with more than 500 mobile operators in more than 200 countries of the world;
  • TeleSign is a company that uses AI for digital identity and interaction;
  • Proximus is the parent company of BICS and TeleSign.



How the company’s subscriber data is transmitted, according to NOYB

The allegations against BICS and TeleSign date back to article in the Le Soir newspaper of March 2022, which stated that BICS collected customer phone activity data and secretly shared it with TeleSign. The data included information such as the type of technology used to make calls or text messages, frequency of activity, and duration of calls.

TeleSign then used AI algorithms to assign “trust scores” to users, which are allegedly used by Microsoft, Salesforce and TikTok to determine whether users should be allowed to set up accounts.

According to Telesign, the company “validates more than 5 billion unique phone numbers per month, representing half of the world’s mobile phone users, and provides critical information about the remaining billion.”

When the plaintiffs filed data requests with the company under European privacy law GDPR, they found that TeleSign did indeed rank them based on their phone activity. In one example cited in the complaint, the plaintiff is assigned a “medium-low” risk level.

The plaintiffs also allege that such a ranking system violates the GDPR’s ban on face profiling using prediction algorithms. The law prohibits “automated processing of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person, in particular to analyze or predict factors relating to the productivity, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behavior, location or movement of that natural person “.

The complaint also alleges that transferring BICS data to a California company potentially exposes information about European citizens to US law enforcement.

A TeleSign spokesperson told the media that the company has a data privacy program and complies with all laws and regulations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA). TeleSign is also constantly reviewing its internal policies and practices to keep up with changing regulatory requirements.

Among NOYB’s requests to the Belgian data authority, the plaintiffs are asking BICS to stop transmitting data and TeleSign to stop processing data. The plaintiffs also demand a fine, which, according to EU law, should not exceed €236 million, or 4% of Proximus’ annual income.

As of December 31, 2021, Proximus Group is 53.51% owned by the Belgian state, 4.52% owned by Proximus, and the remaining 41.97% is in free float.

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