Aardvark Daily
Attempt made to steal White-Pages data
Copyright © 1997 to Bruce Simpson, syndication rights available
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10 Nov 1997

In an article last week, Aardvark published a rumour that attempts were about to be made to download the data contained in Telecom New Zealand's new White Pages telephone directory site.

Subsequent to the publication of that article, just such an attempt was made, on Friday of last week.

Reports indicate that an Internet user connecting through a dial-up IHUG account tried to download large volumes of name and telephone information from the Telecom White Pages site. By apparently using an automated query program, the user repeatedly submitted queries to produce a series of reports which, it is speculated, were being collected in order to create a reverse-lookup directory.

Telecom Directories staff were able to quickly identify the attempt and took immediate action to block it, action which included contacting IHUG who took "appropriate action".

Extra restrictions have been placed on the White Pages search mechanism to avoid a recurrence of the same type of interrogation. Unfortunately such restrictions do tend to reduce the functionality available to legitimate users although at this stage the result of the changes is hardly noticeable.

Anyone attempting to create a reverse telephone number lookup directory should be aware that to do so would be a breach of the privacy act and see the operator liable for prosecution. Until the introduction of the new Privacy legislation, Universal Business Directories (UBD) offered a reverse lookup directory in printed form. This has since been discontinued.

For a snapshot review of the Telecom White Pages site, see this week's Aardvark Weekly.

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