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Mobile Carrier Privacy Concerns

Techmog is a liquid network of engineers, programmers, designers and entrepreneurs in and around London who report on the industry we work in, from an insider's view. We're always looking for Londoners with something interesting to say. Send an email to info@techmog.com if you would like to contribute to the website.

Peter Bailey

Freelance Wordpress Developer in London (peabay.xyz) @peabay
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A couple of months ago I investigated a website that would refuse to work properly on my mobile over my mobile network. What I found in the source code of every website was arbitrary Javascript from the carrier.

What this means is that my carrier has the ability to monitor everything I do online, insert adverts, steal passwords or credit card information. What’s worse is that they keep this shifty activity a secret. My carrier refused to comment on the reasons for the privacy intrusion, but their forums were inflamed.

The real reason for the Javascript most probably isn’t malicious, but to aid in compression of pages. At the very most they’ll be looking at the type of device to make sure you’re not tethering, if their terms deny it. But unless their security is perfect hackers could have access to millions of mobile phones across the country.

I write this post after recent emergence of a similar scandal in which certain carriers were inserting mobile phone numbers into the header of every website giving any website the user might visit access to the number.

Naturally online tools have popped up to check if your carrier is doing the dirty on you. I recommend gladdy.co.uk/mobile. Carriers should not be modifying content at all. When you pay for an internet service you assume you’re not going to get a cut back experience, but most commonly web pages you visit are first downloaded by the carrier, messed with, and then sent to you.

Posted 25th Jan 2012
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