NOYB sues US company TeleSign over secretly profiling phone users allegations

NOYB has filed a complaint against TeleSign for secretly profiling millions of mobile phone users using data from BICS. TeleSign assigns a “trust score” to each user, and this data processing takes place in the US, where authorities may access it.

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The European Centre for Digital Rights (NOYB) filed a complaint on 23 June against TeleSign, a US company for secretly profiling millions of mobile phone users. Belgian newspaper ‘Le Soir’ revealed in March 2022 that, Telesign was receiving data from the Belgian interconnection service provided, BICS, to create profiles of millions of phone users worldwide. TeleSign assigned a ‘trust score’ ranging from 0 to 300 to each mobile phone user. Based on this score, TeleSign’s clients, including TikTok, Salesforce, and Microsoft, could determine whether to allow users to sign up for their platforms or require SMS verification.

NOYB added that while there are limited instances where personal data can be utilised for security reasons without explicit consent, the undisclosed utilisation of telecommunications data pertaining to the majority of global mobile phone users contradicts EU and national data protection regulations. TeleSign states on its website that it employs AI models to analyse the vast volume of data obtained from BICS, allowing them to generate a ‘trust score’ for each phone number. It is important to note that this data processing takes place in the United States, where US authorities also possess the ability to access personal data held by TeleSign.