LONDON (AFP) – Telecoms giant Vodafone gave British police the mobile phone records of 1,700 people working for News UK, the company that publishes several top British newspapers, The Times reported on Tuesday.
The Times, owned by News UK, said staff had been informed of the breach by chief executive Mark Darcey on Tuesday. It concerned call records of staff at The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun between 2005 and 2007, the newspaper said.
News UK chief executive Mike Darcey said in a statement in The Times story that he was “personally appalled” at the breach and that Vodafone had apologised.
“The mobile phone records of journalists – and lawyers – contain privileged information and we have made clear to them that we regard this as a very serious issue,” Darcey said.
The police request was made under the Regulation of Investiga-tory Powers Act, a controversial anti-terrorism law which has been accused of enabling excessive sur-veillance.
The revelation comes ahead of
the presentation of a new anti-terrorism bill in the British parlia-ment intended to increase the
ability of police to access computer and telephone data of people sus-pected of extremist links.