Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Security concerns raised after private numbers exposed

Published:Wednesday | December 21, 2016 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

Jamaica's police chief has suggested that the actions of telecommunications company FLOW, to inadvertently publish the private telephone numbers and other personal data of several current and former public officials as well as business leaders and ordinary citizens, could present security concerns.

The suggestion comes as one public official, whose private telephone number and other personal data were made public, reacted with shock to the incident and expressed fear for her family.

"That is not a responsible way of doing things, and they [FLOW] would have to perhaps try to see how they can mitigate any harm that could come from that," Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams cautioned yesterday.

"That's not good security," Williams underscored.

However, he gave the assurance that the Jamaica Constabulary Force has measures in place to deal with potential security threats.

"If it rises to the level where we have to provide them physical protection, as difficult as it is, we would want to try and do that," Williams said.

Checks by The Gleaner revealed that the heads of at least two watchdog agencies, a senior prosecutor and a former high-ranking judicial officer are among the perhaps hundreds of persons whose private information was published in the Yellow Pages Residential Directory for 2017.

But more than 24 hours after the issue first came to public attention, officials at FLOW have remained tight-lipped.

"We sent something to [The Gleaner] yesterday (Monday), so that would be our response," the company's director of corporate communications and stakeholder management, Kayon Wallace, told The Gleaner yesterday.

In that statement, FLOW said it regretted the inclusion of the private listing of some customers in the 2016-2017 telephone directory.

"We unreservedly apologise for this," the company added.

A public official with whom The Gleaner spoke, who requested anonymity for security reasons, reacted with shock after she was informed by The Gleaner that her private telephone number and other personal data were made public.




"I would have thought that the level of professionalism that they try to portray, that it would have prevented something like this occurring. But I see I was wrong. What life has taught me is that you trust only yourself," said the official, who acknowledged that her number has been private for many years.

"It will be interesting to observe upfront the credibility of the governance structure they have there to see if any light is shone on this 'inadvertent' incident or to give a reasons as to why this has occurred," added the official, who is assigned police bodyguard.

She described the incident as a breach of her privacy and said she now fears for the safety of her family. "But I will seek to make the necessary arrangements as far as I can and I will continue to have faith in God and I will continue to do my work," she insisted.

"I have been an excellent customer for many, many years and I cannot understand what sin it is that I may have committed that caused me to become a victim of this 'inadvertent' incident that has taken place at this organisation," she questioned.

"I wait to see what calibre of governance and accountability is manifested by this company where the necessary enquiry will be made to, in the spirit of conspiracy, give us the poor customers a reason why some of us as public figures have had this 'inadvertence' befall us," the official added.