§ Mr. Straw
[holding answer 19 January 1998]: The circumstances under which the four mobile telephone operators may disclose personal information which they hold on computer for their own purposes (including for billing, fraud prevention and statistical analysis) are regulated by the Data Protection Act 1984, by the Telecommunications Act 1984, and by the terms of their Telecommunications Act Licences which require them to take all reasonable steps to ensure the confidentiality of consumer information.
Section 45 of the Telecommunications Act, as amended by the Interception of Communications Act 1985, provides that public telecommunications operators commit an offence if they disclose any information concerning the use made of their telecommunications services by any other person except where disclosures are made for the prevention or detection of crime, for the purpose of any criminal proceedings, in the interests of national security or in pursuance of the order of a court. It is for the individual operator to satisfy himself that one or more of those exceptions apply before releasing any such information.